pa·​ta·​gi·​um pə-ˈtā-jē-əm How to pronounce patagium (audio)
plural patagia pə-ˈtā-jē-ə How to pronounce patagium (audio)
: the fold of skin connecting the forelimbs and hind limbs of some tetrapods (such as flying squirrels)
: the fold of skin in front of the main segments of a bird's wing

Illustration of patagium

Illustration of patagium
  • P patagium 1

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 Bats, however, use a thin, fleshy membrane called a patagium to provide lift, in place of feathers. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 8 May 2019 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, 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, 28 Feb. 2017

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

Word History


New Latin, from Latin, gold edging on a tunic

First Known Use

1857, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of patagium was in 1857


Dictionary Entries Near patagium

Cite this Entry

“Patagium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

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