pa·​ta·​gi·​um | \ pə-ˈtā-jē-əm How to pronounce patagium (audio) \
plural patagia\ pə-​ˈtā-​jē-​ə How to pronounce patagium (audio) \

Definition of patagium

1 : the fold of skin connecting the forelimbs and hind limbs of some tetrapods (such as flying squirrels)
2 : the fold of skin in front of the main segments of a bird's wing

Illustration of patagium

Illustration of patagium

P patagium 1

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Did You Know?

In Latin, patagium referred to a gold edging or border on a woman's tunic, but in English its uses have been primarily scientific. It entered the English language in the early 19th century and was used by entomologists to refer to a process on the back of the foremost segment of an insect. Zoologists borrowed it as a word for the fold of skin of "flying" mammals and reptiles. Then ornithologists took the word to higher heights by the century's end, applying it to the forward part of the wings of birds.

Examples of patagium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Flying squirrels don’t have their own means of propulsion, like a bird or bat, but glide using a furry membrane called the patagium that connects at their wrists down to their ankles. National Geographic, "Flying squirrels," 21 Aug. 2020 The presence of a patagium—the skin linking the upper arm to the lower—helps generate lift and is an adaptation generally thought to be necessary for gliding or flight. National Geographic, "This May Be Our Best Idea of What a Dinosaur Really Looked Like," 28 Feb. 2017

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

First Known Use of patagium

1857, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for patagium

New Latin, from Latin, gold edging on a tunic

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The first known use of patagium was in 1857

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Cite this Entry

“Patagium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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