barbule

noun
bar·​bule | \ ˈbär-(ˌ)byül How to pronounce barbule (audio) \

Definition of barbule

: a minute barb especially : one of the processes that fringe the barbs of a feather — see feather illustration

Examples of barbule in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unlike in other shiny birds, such as hummingbirds or crows, the cassowary's glossiness is produced by the rachis, or the spine of the feather, rather than the barbules, or minute filaments fringing a feather. Katie Hunt, CNN, "How the world's most dangerous bird got its unique feathers," 13 May 2020 Those barbules, in turn, have even smaller features—lumpy nodes and prongs spaced along their length. Helen Czerski, WSJ, "Eiderdown Is Nature’s Perfect Duvet," 6 Feb. 2020 Long curly barbs radiate out from the center, and each one is covered in smaller barbules that stick out like the branches on a fir tree. Helen Czerski, WSJ, "Eiderdown Is Nature’s Perfect Duvet," 6 Feb. 2020 The contour feathers interlock and overlap with tiny barbs (actually called barbules), forming a water and windproof protective outer layer on their bodies. Cori Brown, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Cori Brown: It’s time to dabble with ducks," 20 Oct. 2019 Inside the feather’s barbules, layers of melanosomes and a type of the structural protein keratin can scatter incoming light in such a way that only certain colors reflect back out. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "First blue feathers found on a fossilized bird," 25 June 2019 Some bird of paradise feathers, on the other hand, are irregular, with curved, spiky barbules and cavities within the feathers. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Scientists Shine New Light on the Blackest Black Feathers," 11 Jan. 2018 When light strikes a superblack feather's forest of barbules—which tilt at about 30 degrees toward the outer tip of the feather—it gets reflected into cavities between the tiny structures rather than outward, McCoy says. Sid Perkins, Scientific American, "Back to Black: How Birds-of-Paradise Get Their Midnight Feathers," 9 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barbule.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of barbule

1813, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of barbule was in 1813

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Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barbule.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/barbule. Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on barbule

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about barbule

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