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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about alula

Time Traveler for alula

Time Traveler

The first known use of alula was in 1772

See more words from the same year

Statistics for alula

Cite this Entry

“Alula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

Comments on alula

What made you want to look up alula? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!