Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


1. Anatomy
a. One of a series of long curved bones occurring in 12 pairs in humans and extending from the spine to or toward the sternum.
b. A similar bone in most vertebrates.
2. A part or piece similar to a rib and serving to shape or support: the rib of an umbrella.
3. A cut of meat enclosing one or more rib bones.
4. Nautical One of many curved members attached to a boat or ship's keel and extending upward and outward to form the framework of the hull.
5. One of many transverse pieces that provide an airplane wing with shape and strength.
6. Architecture A long, narrow, usually arched member projecting from the surface of a structure, especially such a member separating the webs of a vault.
7. A raised ridge or wale in knitted material or in cloth.
8. Botany The main vein or any of the prominent veins of a leaf or other plant organ.
9. Slang A teasing remark or action; a joke.
tr.v. ribbed, rib·bing, ribs
1. To shape, support, or provide with a rib or ribs.
2. To make with ridges or raised markings.
3. Informal To tease or make fun of: ribbed my friend about losing the game.

[Middle English, from Old English ribb.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


click for a larger image
Twelve pairs of curved bones that protect the chest cavity and that rise to enlarge it, helping to draw air into the lungs.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited
References in classic literature ?
"So make you ready for the tune I am about to play upon your ribs. Have at you!
Lynde straned her ribs. The doctor came and gave her medicine to rub on her ribs but she didn't under stand him and took it all inside instead.
It beats and throbs like a pulsating heart within her iron ribs, and when it stops, the steamer, whose life is not so much a contest as the disdainful ignoring of the sea, sickens and dies upon the waves.
Sancho answered that it was nothing, only that he had fallen down from a rock and had his ribs a little bruised.
Alas, how ye stand there before me, ye unfruitful ones; how lean your ribs! And many of you surely have had knowledge thereof.
For five years he had held the mid-country champion belt for wrestling, till the great Adam o' Lincoln cast him in the ring and broke one of his ribs; but at quarterstaff he had never yet met his match in all the country about.
As he nods towards a point of darkness behind Mr Wegg, the latter, with a slight start, looks round for 'that French gentleman,' whom he at length descries to be represented (in a very workmanlike manner) by his ribs only, standing on a shelf in another corner, like a piece of armour or a pair of stays.
"Do, auntie, it's perfectly splendid," cried Rose's voice, and Rose's blooming face was seen behind the ribs of the skeleton, smiling and nodding in the gayest possible manner.
Buy a pup and your money will buy Love unflinching that cannot lie-- Perfect passion and worship fed By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
They squeezed him dreadfully, it was a wonder they did not break his ribs. "We will leave him here till he confesses," said Silvertail Squirrel, and he shouted into the hole--
"I guess already that you have been stuck in the ribs with a knife.
Smallpox in 'Onolulu, two broken legs in Shanghai, pnuemonia in Unalaska, three busted ribs an' my insides all twisted in 'Frisco.