ptero·​dac·​tyl ˌter-ə-ˈdak-tᵊl How to pronounce pterodactyl (audio)
: any of various pterosaurs (suborder Pterodactyloidea) of the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous having a rudimentary tail and a beak with reduced dentition
broadly : pterosaur

Examples of pterodactyl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On the wall of the family bedroom, next to a row of medals, hung one son’s artwork: drawings of a Spinosaurus and a T-rex, a pterodactyl and a dragon, each carefully labeled in English. Bhadra Sharma, New York Times, 11 June 2024 On the left, Wyatt has two temporary tattoos, one of a pterodactyl and another of a sea animal. Hannah Sacks, Peoplemag, 19 Apr. 2024 There was also Pterri (a pterodactyl), Conky (a robot), Randy (a pugnacious red-headed marionette), and Globey (a globe). Bruce Handy, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2023 Pee-wee’s neighborhood was a curious one, inhabited by Chairry, a talking chair; Pterri, a blue pterodactyl; and an ant farm that communicated by forming words. Emily Langer, Washington Post, 31 July 2023 Both silly and subversive and championing nonconformity, the Pee-wee universe was a trippy place, populated by things such as a talking armchair and a friendly pterodactyl. Andrew Dalton, Anchorage Daily News, 31 July 2023 Kleinow’s, a black velvet tunic, sported a pterodactyl on the front. David Browne, Rolling Stone, 20 July 2023 This is Primal, so the god rides a pterodactyl. Darren Franich,, 1 Oct. 2020 In another, a goofy worker for an unnamed rival chain tries to impress a customer by contorting a pizza box, origami-style, into the shape of a pterodactyl (underscoring its offering of just a pizza and a box, compared with Little Caesars’s two pizzas for one low price). New York Times, 24 Sep. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pterodactyl.' 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 Pterodactylus, genus of reptiles, from Greek pteron wing + daktylos finger — more at feather

First Known Use

1829, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pterodactyl was in 1829

Dictionary Entries Near pterodactyl

Cite this Entry

“Pterodactyl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


ptero·​dac·​tyl ˌter-ə-ˈdak-tᵊl How to pronounce pterodactyl (audio)
: any of various extinct flying reptiles having a featherless membrane extending from the body along the arms and forming the supporting surface of the wings

from scientific Latin Pterodactylus "pterodactyl," from Greek pteron "wing" and Greek daktylos "finger"

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