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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce dorsal (audio)

Dictionary definition of dorsal

Relating to the back or upper side of an object, organism, or anatomical structure.
"The dorsal fin of the shark helps it maintain balance in the water."

Detailed meaning of dorsal

The term originates from the Latin word "dorsum" which means "back." In biology and anatomy, the dorsal side of an organism is often distinguished from its ventral, or belly, side. The dorsal side is typically the top or uppermost surface, while the ventral side is the underside or bottom surface. Many animals have a dorsal fin, which is a rigid structure that helps them maintain balance and stability in the water. In humans, the dorsal side of the hand is more sensitive to touch than the ventral side. The dorsal roots of the spinal cord emerge from the back side of the spinal cord, while the ventral roots emerge from the front. Overall, the term "dorsal" is used to describe the upper or back side of an object or organism, particularly in the context of biology and anatomy.

Example sentences containing dorsal

1. The dorsal fin of the shark is its most distinctive feature.
2. Whales use their dorsal fins for stabilization in the water.
3. The dolphin's dorsal side is typically a darker shade of gray compared to its belly.
4. The fish was easily identifiable due to its unique pattern of stripes on the dorsal fin.
5. In anatomy, the term dorsal refers to the back side of the body.
6. The scientist studied the dorsal ridges of different species of whales for her research.

History and etymology of dorsal

The adjective 'dorsal' finds its origins in the Latin word 'dorsalis,' which is derived from 'dorsum,' meaning 'the back' or 'upper side.' This term has a direct reference to the anatomical structure of animals and organisms, specifically the upper or back portion of their bodies. As scientific understanding developed, 'dorsal' was adopted into English to describe anything related to the back or upper surface of an object, organism, or anatomical structure. Whether used in biology to discuss the dorsal fin of a fish or in anatomy to describe the dorsal side of the human body, the etymology of 'dorsal' underscores its association with the concept of the upper or back part of something.

Quiz: Find the meaning of dorsal

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Further usage examples of dorsal

1. The injury to the dorsal region of his foot made it difficult for him to walk.
2. The fish had an elongated dorsal fin that stretched almost the entire length of its body.
3. The dorsal surface of the leaf was a much darker green than the underside.
4. The lizard had a row of spiky projections running along its dorsal side.
5. The dorsal fin of the dolphin is crucial for navigation and balance in the water.
6. In humans, the spinal column is located on the dorsal side of the body.
7. Many fish have a soft-rayed dorsal fin followed by a separate spiny dorsal fin.
8. The dolphin was easily recognized by the notch in its dorsal fin.
9. In medical terminology, the opposite of dorsal is ventral, which refers to the front side of the body.
10. The dorsal fin of a shark helps it maintain balance.
11. The dorsal side of the leaf had a vibrant green hue.
12. The dorsal view of the mountain revealed its majestic peaks.
13. The dorsal feathers of the bird were iridescent in the sunlight.
14. He felt a sharp pain in his dorsal region after lifting a heavy box.
15. The dorsal side of the turtle's shell was hard and protective.
16. The dorsal spine of the book contained the author's notes.
17. The dorsal part of the car displayed a sleek design.
18. The dorsal surface of the bridge offered breathtaking views.
19. The dorsal fin of the sailfish was an impressive sight in the water.
20. The dorsal fin of the airplane extended for stability.
21. The dorsal roots of the spinal cord transmit sensory information.
22. She noticed a small dorsal fin breaking the surface of the ocean.
23. The dorsal anatomy of mammals varies greatly from species to species.
24. The dorsal position in yoga involves stretching the back muscles.



back, ventral, frontal, abdominal


SAT 10 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Biology and Nature, Anatomy and Biology

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