al·​u·​la ˈal-yə-lə How to pronounce alula (audio)
plural alulae ˈal-yə-ˌlē How to pronounce alula (audio)
: a specialized structure of the upper leading edge of a bird's wing that consists of a tuft of short, stiff flight feathers attached to the movable first wing digit corresponding to the thumb and that facilitates flight, landing, and maneuverability at slow speeds : bastard wing
While easy to overlook, the alula is essential to a modern bird's aerodynamics.Tom Waters
By altering airflow, the alula permits good maneuverability and control at low flying speeds, crucial for takeoffs and landings.National Geographic

Examples of alula in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web While easy to overlook, the alula is essential to a modern bird’s aerodynamics. Tom Waters, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 This creates a slot between the main wing and the alula. Tom Waters, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alula.' 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 New Latin, from Latin āla "wing" + -ula, diminutive suffix — more at ala

First Known Use

1772, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of alula was in 1772

Dictionary Entries Near alula

Cite this Entry

“Alula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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