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AORT'A, noun [Gr. the great artery; also an ark or chest.]

The great artery, or trunk of the arterial system; proceeding from the left ventricle of the heart, and giving origin to all the arteries, except the pulmonary arteries. It first rises, when it is called the ascending aorta; then makes a great curve, when it gives off branches to the head, and upper extremities; then proceeds downwards, called the descending aorta when it gives off branches to the trunk; and finally divides into the two iliacs, which supply the pelvis and lower extremities.