(vûrʹtə-brĭt, -brāt´) adjective. 1. Having a backbone or spinal column. 2. Of or characteristic of vertebrates or a vertebrate. noun. Abbr. vert. A member of the subphylum Vertebrata, a primary division of the phylum Chordata that includes the fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, all of which are characterized by a segmented spinal column and a distinct, well-differentiated head, vertebrat : a vertebrate animal, haiwan vertebrat.