1. one of a series of curved bones that are articulated with the vertebrae and occur in pairs, 12 in humans, on each side of the vertebrate body, certain pairs being connected with the sternum and forming the thoracic wall.
  2. a cut of meat, as beef, containing a rib.
  3. ribs, spareribs(def 2).
  4. Architecture.
    1. any of several archlike members of a vault supporting it at the groins, defining its distinct surfaces, or dividing these surfaces into panels: including ogives and tiercerons.
    2. any of several molded members or moldings, including ridge ribs and liernes, and on the surface of a vault accenting the ridges or dividing the surface into panels.
  5. something resembling a rib in form, position, or use, as a supporting or strengthening part.
  6. a structural member that supports the shape of something: an umbrella rib.
  7. Nautical. any of the curved framing members in a ship’s hull that rise upward and outward from the keel; frame.
  8. a stiffening beam cast as part of a concrete slab.
  9. a primary vein of a leaf.
  10. a vertical ridge in cloth, especially in knitted fabrics.
  11. a ridge, as in poplin or rep, caused by heavy yarn.
  12. a wife (in humorous allusion to the creation of Eve. Gen. 2:21–22).
  13. Ceramics. a scraper for smoothing clay being thrown on a potter’s wheel.
  14. a metal ridge running along the top of the barrel of a firearm to simplify aligning the sights.
  15. a longitudinal strip of metal joining the barrels of a double-barreled gun.

verb (used with object), ribbed, rib·bing.

  1. to furnish or strengthen with ribs.
  2. to enclose as with ribs.
  3. to mark with riblike ridges or markings.


  1. any of the 24 curved elastic arches of bone that together form the chest wall in man. All are attached behind to the thoracic part of the spinal columnTechnical name: costa Compare true rib, false ribs, floating rib
  2. the corresponding bone in other vertebrates
  3. a cut of meat including one or more ribs
  4. a part or element similar in function or appearance to a rib, esp a structural or supporting member or a raised strip or ridge
  5. a structural member in a wing that extends from the leading edge to the trailing edge and maintains the shape of the wing surface
  6. a projecting moulding or band on the underside of a vault or ceiling, which may be structural or ornamental
  7. one of a series of raised rows in knitted fabricSee also ribbing (def. 3)
  8. a raised ornamental line on the spine of a book where the stitching runs across it
  9. any of the transverse stiffening timbers or joists forming the frame of a ship’s hull
  10. any of the larger veins of a leaf
  11. a metal strip running along the top of the barrel of a shotgun or handgun and guiding the alignment of the sights
  12. a vein of ore in rock
  13. a projecting ridge of a mountain; spur

verb ribs, ribbing or ribbed (tr)

  1. to furnish or support with a rib or ribs
  2. to mark with or form into ribs or ridges
  3. to knit plain and purl stitches alternately in order to make raised rows in (knitting)
  4. archaic to enclose with or as if with ribs

verb ribs, ribbing or ribbed

  1. (tr) to tease or ridicule


  1. a joke or hoax

Old English ribb “rib,” from Proto-Germanic *rebja- (cf. Old Norse rif, Old Saxon ribbi, Old Frisian ribb, Middle Dutch, Dutch ribbe, Old High German ribba, German Rippe), literally “a covering” (of the cavity of the chest), from PIE *rebh- “to roof, cover” (cf. Greek ereptein “to roof,” Old Church Slavonic rebro “rib, reef”). As an item of food from early 15c. Rib joint “brothel” is slang from 1943, probably in reference to Adam’s rib (cf. rib “woman, wife,” attested from 1580s).


“tease, fool,” 1930, apparently from rib (n.); perhaps as a figurative suggestion of poking someone in the ribs. Related: Ribbed; ribbing.


  1. One of a series of long curved bones occurring in 12 pairs in humans and extending from the spine to or toward the sternum.

  1. Any of a series of long, curved bones extending from the spine and enclosing the chest cavity. In mammals, reptiles, and birds, the ribs curve toward the center of the chest and in most cases attach to the sternum (breastbone). There are 12 pairs of ribs in humans. See more at skeleton.
  2. One of the main veins of a leaf.

see stick to the ribs.

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