See also: spiné, spině, spinę, spíne, and špíně

English edit

English Wikipedia has an article on:
The spines of some books on the English language
A drawing of the human vertebral column or spine, from Gray's Anatomy (20th ed., 1918)
A drawing of an Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica), with a coat of spines

Etymology edit

From late Middle English spyne, from Old French espine (French épine) or its source, Latin spīna (a thorn; a prickle, spine; the backbone). Doublet of spina.

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /spaɪn/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪn

Noun edit

spine (plural spines)

  1. (anatomy, zootomy) A series of bones situated at the back from the head to the pelvis of a human, or from the head to the tail of an animal, enclosing the spinal cord and providing support for the thorax and abdomen.
    Synonyms: backbone, spinal column, vertebral column
    Hyponyms: C-spine, cervical spine, L-spine, railway spine, T-spine
    • 1851, Herman Melville, chapter 80, in Moby-Dick:
      If you attentively regard almost any quadruped's spine, you will be struck with the resemblance of its vertebrae to a strung necklace of dwarfed skulls.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XXXIV, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC, page 266:
      The preposterous altruism too! [] Resist not evil. It is an insane immolation of self—as bad intrinsically as fakirs stabbing themselves or anchorites warping their spines in caves scarcely large enough for a fair-sized dog.
    1. (figurative) Courage or assertiveness.
      • 2001, Sydney I. Landau, Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 409:
        Trademark Owners will nevertheless try to dictate how their marks are to be represented, but dictionary publishers with spine can resist such pressure.
  2. Something resembling a backbone, such as a ridge, or a long, central structure from which other structures radiate.
    Hyponyms: anterior superior iliac spine, dendritic spine, neural spine
    • 1838, Samuel Hare, chapter 4, in Practical Observations on the Causes and Treatment of Curvatures of the Spine: With Hygienic Directions for the Physical Culture of Youth, as a Means of Preventing the Disease; an Etching and Description of an Apparatus for the Correction of the Deformity, and Engravings Illustrative of the Cases[1], London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co. [et al.], →OCLC, Lateral Curvature, page 76:
      [Describing scoliosis.] The integuments over the abdomen are folded or wrinkled, the left breast is seldom fully developed, the ribs lose their natural shape, those of the left side becoming straighter, while, on the right side, they are so much curved, as to admit of their being easily grasped by the hand; they are closer together on the left side, and frequently rest upon the spine of the ilium, thus giving the right side a fuller and more rounded appearance than is natural.
    • 1994, Howard S. An with J. Michael Simpson, “Anatomy of the Cervical Spine”, in Surgery of the Cervical Spine, London: Martin Dunitz, →ISBN, Muscles and Fascia, page 14:
      The posterior muscles of the neck are divided into superficial, intermediate, and deep groups. The most superficial muscle is the trapezius, which originates from the external occipital protuberance and the medial nuchal line of C7 to T12 spinous processes and inserts onto the spine of the scapula, acromion, and the lateral aspect of the clavicle.
    • 2007, Peter Hyatt, “Ian Moore Architects”, in Masters of Light: Designing the Luminous House, Mulgrave, Vic.: The Images Publishing Group, →ISBN, Air Apartments, page 242:
      The eastern tower and the smaller western satellite are linked by the lift core, which passes through the centre of the monorail turning circle and provides the structural spine of the building; the two towers are cantilevered from this spine.
    • 2007, Sergei Matveev, “2 Complexity Theory of 3-Manifolds”, in Algorithmic Topology and Classification of 3-Manifolds, 2nd edition, Berlin: Springer Science+Business Media, →ISBN, 2.3.2 Simplification Moves, page 75:
      The polyhedron PD is a special spine of the twice punctured M, that is, of M with two balls B1, B2 cut out of it. To get a spine of M, we make a hole in c′ or c″ depending on which of them is a common face of these balls.
  3. The narrow, bound edge of a book that encloses the inner edges of the pages, facing outwards when the book is on a shelf and typically bearing the title and the author's and publisher's name.
    Synonym: back
    • 1994–2014, “Rare Book Basics: Book Terms Illustrated”, in Powell's City of Books[2], archived from the original on 5 July 2014:
      The spine is the book's backbone. Because the spine is generally all you can see when a book is on the shelf, the spine displays the title and author of the book and is often ornately decorated.
  4. (zootomy, botany) A pointed, fairly rigid protuberance or needlelike structure on an animal, shell, or plant.
    Synonyms: needle, prickle, (on animals, flexible) quill, spicule, (rigid) spike, (on plants) thorn, (obsolete) virgula
    • 1871, Charles Darwin, “chapter 12”, in Descent of Man, page 331:
      The male, as Dr. Gunther informs me, has a cluster of stiff, straight spines, like those of a comb, on the sides of the tail.
  5. (botany) The heartwood of trees.
  6. (neuroscience) Ellipsis of dendritic spine..
    • 2008, Dale Purves, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William C. Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, James O. McNamara, Leonard E. White, Neuroscience, 4th edition, Sinauer Associates:
      Spines are distinguished by the presence of globular tips called spine heads; when spines are present, the synapses innervating dendrites are made from these heads.
  7. A linear payscale operated by some large organizations that allows flexibility for local and specific conditions.
    Synonym: pay spine
  8. (geology) A tall mass of viscous lava extruded from a volcano.
  9. The stiffness of an arrow.

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

References edit

Further reading edit

  • spine”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.

Anagrams edit

Friulian edit

Etymology edit

From Latin spīna.

Noun edit

spine f (plural spinis)

  1. thorn
  2. spine, prickle

Related terms edit

Italian edit

Noun edit

spine f

  1. plural of spina

Anagrams edit

Latin edit

Noun edit


  1. vocative singular of spīnus

Middle English edit

Noun edit


  1. Alternative form of spyne