ap·​pend·​age ə-ˈpen-dij How to pronounce appendage (audio)
: an adjunct to something larger or more important : appurtenance
: a usually projecting part of an animal or plant body that is typically smaller and of less functional importance than the main part to which it is attached
especially : a limb or analogous part (such as a seta)
[appendant] : a dependent or subordinate person

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The Root of Appendage

Appendix isn't the only noun that comes from append. Unlike appendix, appendage doesn't suggest the end of something, but simply something attached. The word is often used in biology to refer to parts of an animal's body: an insect's antennae, mouthparts, or wings, for example. The appendages of some animals will grow back after they've been removed; a salamander, for example, can regrow a finger, and the tiny sea squirt can regrow all its appendages—and even its brain.

Examples of appendage in a Sentence

The court system acts as an appendage to the government. an appendage of a larger political party
Recent Examples on the Web It was propelled by four paddling appendages and might have been capable of speeds of 30 mph. William Booth, Washington Post, 7 Feb. 2024 A lot of the time, we are shown Tibetan art as part of Chinese art — as an appendage because Tibet is now part of China. Christy Choi, CNN, 2 Feb. 2024 Handheld shooting, with the camera almost uninterruptedly floating around Dakota, like an invisible appendage attached to her body, ensure that Johan’s striking face dominates every space and that there’s no chance for the viewer to feel detached from her. Carlos Aguilar, Variety, 30 Jan. 2024 Then there are some organisms that would rather grow a butt that develops into an autonomous appendage equipped with its own antennae, eyes, and brain. Elizabeth Rayne, Ars Technica, 8 Dec. 2023 But one movement is largely confined to adult domestic cats: tail-up, whereby the articulate appendage is held perpendicular to the cat’s back, with the tip pointed forward at an approaching individual. Brandon Keim, Popular Science, 12 Oct. 2023 But these colorful birds grip the branches with an unusual appendage: their beaks. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Jan. 2024 Many people were tattooed — not just full sleeves on arms, but designs covering heads and every appendage. Simbarashe Cha, New York Times, 17 Jan. 2024 What was still a mystery (until now) was exactly how that bizarre appendage, or stolon, could form its own head in the middle of the worm’s body. Elizabeth Rayne, Ars Technica, 8 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1647, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of appendage was in 1647

Dictionary Entries Near appendage

Cite this Entry

“Appendage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ap·​pend·​age ə-ˈpen-dij How to pronounce appendage (audio)
: something attached to a larger or more important thing
: a projecting part (as an antenna) of an animal or plant body
especially : an arm, leg, or similar part

Medical Definition


ap·​pend·​age ə-ˈpen-dij How to pronounce appendage (audio)
: a subordinate or derivative body part
especially : a limb or analogous part (as a seta)

More from Merriam-Webster on appendage

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