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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rectrix

Time Traveler for rectrix

Time Traveler

The first known use of rectrix was in 1813

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about rectrix

Statistics for rectrix

Cite this Entry

“Rectrix.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!