One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small triangular bone at the base of the spinal column in humans and some apes, formed of fused vestigial vertebrae.
- ‘The spinal column is composed of seven cervical vertebrae, twelve thoracic vertebrae, five lumbar vertebrae, the bony sacrum, and the coccyx.’
- ‘For that matter an injury to the spine or the coccyx also qualifies as affecting the automatic nervous system.’
- ‘From splintered bones in the coccyx, she was bedridden for nearly two years.’
- ‘Many of my patients have pressure ulcers on the coccyx or sacrum.’
- ‘The sacrum itself represents 5 fused bones, and the coccyx another vestigial 2-3 or more - the remains of the ancestral tail.’
Late 16th century: via Latin from Greek kokkux ‘cuckoo’ (because the shape of the human bone resembles the cuckoo's bill).
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