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Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for October 21, 2020 is:

dorsal • DOR-sul  • adjective

1 : relating to or situated near or on the back especially of an animal or of one of its parts

2 : situated out of or directed away from the axis : abaxial


I might have identified the bird as a yellow-throated vireo if I’d had more than a dorsal view.

“In later films, the bony dorsal plates that run along [Godzilla’s] spine and tail glow ominously as he unleashes a concentrated blast of atomic breath from his jaws, blasting everything it touches.” — Michael Abatemarco, The Santa Fe New Mexican, 4 Sept. 2020

Did you know?

The most famous use of dorsal is with fin, whether it conjures the ominous dorsal fin of sharks or the benign, even benevolent, image of porpoises and dolphins. Less well-known is the botanical sense of dorsal, meaning “facing away from the axis or stem” (thus the underside of a leaf can be the dorsal side), or the linguistic sense referring to articulations made with the back part of the tongue (k and g, for example). Dorsal can be used of non-living things too (in particular, the backs of airplanes), as can its opposite, ventral, which means “relating to the belly.” Dorsal descends from Latin dorsum (“back”), which also gave us dossier (via French, for a bundle of documents labeled on the back) and reredos (“an ornamental screen or partition wall behind an altar”).

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Ken Saunders

Freelancer, Gadget collector, Biohacker

Ken Saunders is a freelance writer, gadget collector and Biohacker. Kens’ professional background is in Information Technology as well as Health and Wellness. His experience has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. He especially enjoys researching and writing articles on the topics of Technology, Food, and all things Freelancing. His articles have appeared in many online sites, including, Andrew Christian, and can learn more about his services at

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