[vur-tuh-brit, -breyt]
See more synonyms for vertebrate on
  1. having vertebrae; having a backbone or spinal column.
  2. belonging or pertaining to the Vertebrata (or Craniata), a subphylum of chordate animals, comprising those having a brain enclosed in a skull or cranium and a segmented spinal column; a major taxonomic group that includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes.
  1. a vertebrate animal.

Origin of vertebrate

First recorded in 1820–30, vertebrate is from the Latin word vertebrātus jointed. See vertebra, -ate1
Related formsnon·ver·te·brate, adjective, nounsub·ver·te·brate, noun, adjectiveun·ver·te·brate, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for vertebrate

beast, creature, vertebrate, pet, stray, being, brute, mutt, bum, invertebrate, varmint, critter

Examples from the Web for vertebrate

Contemporary Examples of vertebrate

Historical Examples of vertebrate

  • Remember that you are a vertebrate animal, and it is by mistake that you have developed a soul.

    The Great Hunger

    Johan Bojer

  • In the scale of evolution, one vertebrate was as good as another.

  • He rejects Geoffroy's theory of the vertebrate nature of Articulates.

    Form and Function

    E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell

  • It is not of the essence of the vertebrate type to be tetrapodal.

    Form and Function

    E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell

  • Maule appealed to the court: 'My lords, we are vertebrate animals, we are mammalia!

    Familiar Quotations

    John Bartlett

British Dictionary definitions for vertebrate


  1. any chordate animal of the subphylum Vertebrata, characterized by a bony or cartilaginous skeleton and a well-developed brain: the group contains fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals
  1. of, relating to, or belonging to the subphylum Vertebrata
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for vertebrate

1826, from Latin vertebratus (Pliny), from vertebra "joint or articulation of the body, joint of the spine" (see vertebra).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vertebrate in Medicine


[vûrtə-brĭt, -brāt′]
  1. Having a spinal column.
  2. Of or characteristic of a vertebrate.
  1. A member of the subphylum Vertebrata.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

vertebrate in Science


[vûrtə-brĭt, -brāt′]
  1. Any of a large group of chordates of the subphylum Vertebrata (or Craniata), characterized by having a backbone. Vertebrates are bilaterally symmetrical and have an internal skeleton of bone or cartilage, a nervous system divided into brain and spinal cord, and not more than two pairs of limbs. Vertebrates have a well-developed body cavity (called a coelom) containing a chambered heart, large digestive organs, liver, pancreas, and paired kidneys, and their blood contains both red and white corpuscles. Vertebrates include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.