General English


  • noun a pointed structure that is either a modified leaf, as in cacti, or part of a leaf or leaf base


  • noun the longitudinal central part of an engine

Information & Library Science

  • noun the edge of a book which is all that can be seen when a book is upright on a shelf

Media Studies

  • noun the back of a book cover to which the pages are fixed


  • noun the series of bones, the vertebrae, linked together to form a flexible supporting column running from the pelvis to the skull
  • noun any sharp projecting part of a bone

Origin & History of “spine”

Spine comes via Old French espine from Latin spīna ‘thorn’, which was probably derived from the same base as spīca ‘ear of corn’ (source of English spike ‘pointed flower head’). The metaphorical extension ‘backbone’ developed in Latin, perhaps via ‘prickle’ and ‘fish bone’. A spinney (16th c.) is etymologically a ‘thorny thicket’. The word comes via Old French espinei from vulgar Latin *spīnēta, an alteration of Latin spīnētum ‘thorny hedge’, which was derived from spīna.