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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Amateur experimental breeding of Cleaner Shrimps has already been mentioned as a good example of a mobile invertebrate which could be chosen.
▪ In contrast to boiling it alive, freezing an invertebrate to death is a humane thing to do.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Invertebrate \In*ver"te*brate\, a. (Zo["o]l.) Destitute of a backbone; having no vertebr[ae]; of or pertaining to the Invertebrata. -- n. One of the Invertebrata.

Age of invertebrates. See Age, and Silurian.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1826, from Latin in- "not" (see in- (1)) + vertebra "joint" (see vertebra). Invertebrata as a biological classification was coined 1805 by French naturalist Georges Léopole Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert, Baron Cuvier (1769-1832). As an adjective by 1838.


a. Lacking a backbone. n. An animal without vertebrae, i.e. backbone.


adj. lacking a backbone or spinal column; "worms are an example of invertebrate animals" [ant: vertebrate]


n. any animal lacking a backbone or notochord; the term is not used as a scientific classification


Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a backbone or spine), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the subphylum Vertebrata. Familiar examples of invertebrates include insects; crabs, lobsters and their kin; snails, clams, octopuses and their kin; starfish, sea-urchins and their kin; and worms. The majority of animal species are invertebrates; one estimate puts the figure at 97%. Many invertebrate taxa have a greater number and variety of species than the entire subphylum of Vertebrata.

Some of the so-called invertebrates, such as the Chaetognatha, Hemichordata, Tunicata and Cephalochordata are more closely related to the vertebrates than to other invertebrates. This makes the term "invertebrate" paraphyletic and hence almost meaningless for taxonomic purposes.

Usage examples of "invertebrate".

An organism of the invertebrate phylum Cnidaria, a group of about nine thousand species including jellyfish, corals, and anemones.

The fleshy feelers on the underside of its toothless mouth gave the ancient, sharklike fish a fearsome appearance, but its diet consisted of invertebrates and small fish foraged from the bottom.

Nonetheless, despite these radical changes in design, the basic cellular organization of the nervous system, with its neurons, synapses and ensembles of interconnecting cells, is the same for vertebrates as for invertebrates, as is much of their biochemistry.

Whether despite this revolution in design the cellular mechanisms required for learning and memory in invertebrates are similar to or radically different from those in vertebrates is an issue which is still unresolved in research terms, and one which will occupy some of the discussion of the following chapter.

Aplysia may be a special case because it is easy to study, but it would be straining credulity to believe that it organized its learning behaviour along fundamentally different principles from those of other invertebrates, or indeed vertebrates with reasonably sized nervous systems.

Watching it work, he wondered uneasily what other invertebrates might be living within the dunes, meandering sinuously beneath his vulnerable backside even as he sat there contemplating the astonishingly swift disappearance of the many-legged worm.

She pried up boulders and released a scattering of invertebrates: nematodes, mites, sowbugs, altered millipedes.

We observe head, thorax and abdomen as common traits throughout all vertebrates and something akin to it in most invertebrates, too.

It all started with him and Mario and me in the sauna, him breaking down, me and Mario trying to talk him out of the crazy washed-up-at-fifteen-type depressed talk, Mario exploiting a previous like therapeutic bond with the kid from about the mole, then with me putting DT-annulation in broad-stroke terms a freaking invertebrate could have understood for Christ's sake.

Then, slowly, their bones began to give and snap and still shrieking bestially the men flopped like obnoxious invertebrates upon the floor: their spines broken, they still lived.

Reptiles, too, had been catalogued, venomous spiders the size of dinner plates, and invertebrates, exuding oily substances which stung agonizingly.

When Tower traffic was very slow, they went camping on long weekends on Altair's scenic Eastern Shore and several times on the Great Southern Wasteland which, the guide showed them, was teeming with all sorts of insect and invertebrate life forms, fantastic flowers that blamed at night or in the dawn-lit hours, drooping and dying once the blazing Altairian primary seared the planet's equatorial areas.

Infinity trailing behind Earth, ranging back to the age of reptiles, die age of amphibians, the age of fishes, the age of invertebrates - all the way back to the primeval formation.

The Martian paraprimates require an aqueous phase for development from grub to imago, as in many terrestrial invertebrates.

As his great grandfather might have done with a new species of oceanic invertebrate, Ryuhito cataloged every detail of what he observed.