at·​tine ˈa-ˌtīn How to pronounce attine (audio)
plural attines
: any of various myrmicine ants (tribe Attini) found chiefly in tropical America that culture fungi for food
Leaf-cutters and all the other attines cultivate various kinds of fungi for colony members to eat.Susan Milius, Science News, 21 Nov. 1998
Species of the lower attines do not cut and use leaves as the main substrate for their symbiotic fungus, but rather gather a large variety of dead vegetable matter, including bits of leaves, plant seeds, and fruits, as well as insect feces and corpses.Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson, The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct, 2011

Note: The tribe Attini comprises ants of the genus Atta, known as leaf-cutting ants, and closely related genera.

attine adjective
The leaf-cutters represent the most advanced division of a powerful insect tribe called the attine ants, 200 species that engage in a mutually convenient arrangement with fungi. Natalie Angier, New York Times, 13 Dec. 1994

Word History


borrowed from New Latin Attini, from Atta Atta entry 2 + -ini -ini

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of attine was in 1922

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Dictionary Entries Near attine

Cite this Entry

“Attine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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