- Pertaining to the back or posterior side of a structure. Dorsal comes from the Latin word "dorsum" meaning the back. The dorsal surface of the hand is the back of the hand, the side opposite the palm. The dorsal surface of the foot is the back of the foot, the side opposite the sole. The dorsal vertebrae are the thoracic vertebrae; they form part of the back. The dorsal roots of the spinal nerves are the back roots, the posterior roots. The opposite of dorsal is ventral which comes from the Latin "venter" meaning belly. Something that is ventral is oriented toward the belly, toward the front of the body.
* * *1. Pertaining to the back or any dorsum. SYN: tergal. 2. SYN: posterior (2). 3. In veterinary anatomy, pertaining to the back or upper surface of an animal. Often used to indicate the position of one structure relative to another; i.e., nearer the back surface of the body. 4. Old term meaning thoracic, in a limited sense; e.g., d. vertebrae. [Mediev. L. dorsalis, fr. dorsum, back]
* * *dor·sal 'dȯr-səl adj1 a) being or located near, on, or toward the upper surface of an animal (as a quadruped) opposite the lower or ventral surfaceb) being or located near, on, or toward the back or posterior part of the human body2) chiefly Brit THORACICdor·sal·ly -sə-lē adv
* * *adj.relating to or situated at or close to the back of the body or to the posterior part of an organ.
* * *dor·sal (dorґsəl) [L. dorsalis, from dorsum back] 1. pertaining to the back or to any dorsum. 2. denoting a position more toward the back surface than some other object of reference; a synonym of posterior in human anatomy and of superior in the anatomy of quadrupeds.
Medical dictionary. 2011.