or·​ni·​thop·​ter ˈȯr-nə-ˌthäp-tər How to pronounce ornithopter (audio)
: an aircraft designed to derive its chief support and propulsion from flapping wings

Examples of ornithopter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Flying Martha, for example, is a windup flying bird, or ornithopter, that can also be used as a kite and was designed to match the exact dimensions of the passenger pigeon, a once endemic species in North America that was hunted to extinction by 1914. New York Times, 29 Sep. 2021 An ornithopter is a highly complex system. Paul Douglas, Star Tribune, 28 July 2020 In August 2010, with Reichert again supplying pedaling power, the ornithopter achieved flight — albeit brief, about 19 seconds. James McCommons, Discover Magazine, 28 May 2015 In this video the ornithopter developed inside the ERC Advanced Grant GRIFFIN project performs its first flight. IEEE Spectrum, 14 June 2019 An ornithopter is a craft that flies through the air by flapping its wings, which are as wide as a Boeing 737's. Discover Magazine, 30 Sep. 2010 The Times published a helpful aviation glossary of terms: lateral stability, ornithopter, gliding speed, wing warping. Patt Morrisoncolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2023 For instance, Leonardo da Vinci famously built a model plane out of parchment while dreaming up flying machines and used paper models to test his design for an ornithopter. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 4 Jan. 2023 The team who designed and built the ornithopter had a special goal in mind: to show that even air travel could be green. Discover Magazine, 30 Sep. 2010 See More

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

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary ornith- + -pter (as in helicopter)

First Known Use

1908, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ornithopter was in 1908

Dictionary Entries Near ornithopter

Cite this Entry

“Ornithopter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ornithopter. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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