mal·​le·​us | \ ˈma-lē-əs How to pronounce malleus (audio) \
plural mallei\ ˈma-​lē-​ˌī How to pronounce malleus (audio) , -​lē-​ˌē \

Definition of malleus

: the outermost of a chain of three small bones of the mammalian middle ear

called also hammer

— see ear illustration

Examples of malleus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The smallest bones are inside your ear, and they are known as the hammer (malleus), stirrup (stapes), and anvil (incus). Jason Bittel, Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2019 The auditory ossicles of the middle ear – the malleus, incus and stapes – are the tiniest bones in the human body. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, 18 Dec. 2017

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

First Known Use of malleus

1646, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for malleus

New Latin, from Latin, hammer

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Time Traveler for malleus

Time Traveler

The first known use of malleus was in 1646

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Dictionary Entries Near malleus

mallet cutting



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Cite this Entry

“Malleus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for malleus


mal·​le·​us | \ ˈmal-ē-əs How to pronounce malleus (audio) \
plural mallei\ -​ē-​ˌī How to pronounce malleus (audio) , -​ē-​ˌē How to pronounce malleus (audio) \

Medical Definition of malleus

: the outermost of the chain of three ossicles in the middle ear of a mammal consisting of a head, neck, short process, long process, and handle with the short process and handle being fastened to the tympanic membrane and the head articulating with the head of the incus

called also hammer

More from Merriam-Webster on malleus Encyclopedia article about malleus


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