rec·​trix | \ ˈrek-triks How to pronounce rectrix (audio) \
plural rectrices\ ˈrek-​trə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce rectrices (audio) , rek-​ˈtrī-​(ˌ)sēz \

Definition of rectrix

: any of the quill feathers of a bird's tail that are important in controlling flight direction — see bird illustration

Did You Know?

Although "rectrix" (from the Latin word rectrix, the feminine of rector, meaning "one that directs") has been an English word since the late 18th century, it has clung to its Latin plural rectrices. This is not terribly unusual for a technical term like "rectrix." (Note also "cilium," whose more common plural "cilia" refers especially to the hairlike extensions on the exterior of some cells.) "Rectrix" has another meaning wholly unrelated to birds. It's also used (albeit rarely) to refer to a woman who rules or governs.

First Known Use of rectrix

1813, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rectrix

New Latin, from Latin, feminine of rector one that directs

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The first known use of rectrix was in 1813

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Cite this Entry

“Rectrix.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

Comments on rectrix

What made you want to look up rectrix? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


easily led, controlled, or managed

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