alula

noun
al·​u·​la | \ ˈal-yə-lə How to pronounce alula (audio) \
plural alulae\ ˈal-​yə-​ˌlē How to pronounce alula (audio) , -​ˌlī \

Definition of alula

: 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

First Known Use of alula

1772, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for alula

New Latin, from Latin, diminutive of ala wing — more at aisle

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Cite this Entry

“Alula.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alula. Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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