rat·​ite ˈra-ˌtīt How to pronounce ratite (audio)
: a bird with a flat breastbone
especially : any of various mostly flightless birds (such as an ostrich, rhea, emu, moa, or kiwi) with small or rudimentary wings and no keel on the sternum that are probably of polyphyletic origin and are assigned to a number of different orders
ratite adjective

Examples of ratite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web It was known elephant birds were ratites—an ancient group of mostly big, flightless birds, including emus and cassowaries from Australia, ostriches from Africa, rheas from South America and others. Flora Lichtman, Scientific American, 2 June 2023 At one point, researchers believed that D. stirtoni was related to other flightless ratites, like emus and ostriches. National Geographic, 15 May 2018 Ratites and tinamous are among the scant 3 percent of birds in which males have penises. Liz Langley, National Geographic, 3 Sep. 2016 But in all ratites aside from ostriches, only the male cares for the offspring. Liz Langley, National Geographic, 3 Sep. 2016

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

Word History


ultimately from Latin ratitus marked with the figure of a raft, from ratis raft

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ratite was in 1874

Dictionary Entries Near ratite

Cite this Entry

“Ratite.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ratite. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

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