ai·​le·​ron ˈā-lə-ˌrän How to pronounce aileron (audio)
: a movable airfoil at the trailing edge of an airplane wing that is used for imparting a rolling motion especially in banking for turns see airplane illustration

Examples of aileron in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Soon after, high above Lake Berryessa, Colyer executed a couple of aileron rolls, giving his passenger a topsy turvy view and a bit of a spinning head. Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Oct. 2021 Kwak: Other structural components such as wing control surfaces (such as an aileron or a rudder) will be made of edible material by 3D food printing or molding. IEEE Spectrum, 8 Mar. 2023 Among the pieces recovered are an engine blade and engine pylon, the left and right horizontal stabilizers, pieces of the wings and the plane's aileron autopilot actuators. Karson Yiu, ABC News, 24 Mar. 2022 The trip — smooth but for the aileron rolls — lasted just nine minutes. Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Oct. 2021 Whitcomb began a series of wind tunnel tests using a model of a DC-10, evaluating winglets at different airspeeds with different flap and aileron configurations. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, 5 July 2020 In other words, the company still needs to see how the aircraft performs in moments of flight failure with the absence of a traditional airplane’s ailerons, flaps, spoilers, elevators, and even a tail. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 13 Feb. 2020 Aviation history is littered with fatal crashes in which birds gunked up engines or knocked ailerons askew. Brendan I. Koerner, Wired, 24 Jan. 2020 For example, during takeoff and landing, the pilot of an airliner like a Boeing 747 will extend the flaps and slats on the wings to create more lift, and moving surfaces such as ailerons permit the plane to roll and turn. Rob Verger, Popular Science, 16 Jan. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aileron.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French, "tip of a bird's wing, fin, aileron of an airplane," going back to Middle French aleron "tip of a bird's wing," from aelle, aile "wing" (going back to Old French ele, going back to Latin āla) + -eron, diminutive suffix, probably from -ier -er entry 2 + -on, diminutive suffix, going back to Latin -ōn-, -ō, suffix of nouns denoting persons with a prominent characteristic (from construal of nouns such as quarteron "a quarter-pound weight" —from quartier "quarter" + -on, diminutive suffix— as if formed from quart "quarter" + -eron) — more at ala

Note: The first print occurrence of aileron in reference to an airfoil used to control roll was probably in the French aeronautics journal L'Aérophile, 16e année, no. 13 (1 juillet 1908), p. 255. The aeronautics journalist Auguste Nicolleau used the word in a description of Louis Blériot's latest airplane, the Blériot VIII. Curiously, a different journalist in the same issue uses aileron for the elevators ("gouvernails de profondeur") of the dirigible République.

First Known Use

1909, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aileron was in 1909

Dictionary Entries Near aileron

Cite this Entry

“Aileron.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


ai·​le·​ron ˈā-lə-ˌrän How to pronounce aileron (audio)
: a movable part (as a flap) of an airplane wing or a movable body apart from the wing for giving a rolling motion and as a result providing control sideways

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