\ ˈrē-ə How to pronounce rhea (audio) \

Definition of rhea

: either of two South American ratite birds (Rhea americana and Pterocnemia pennata of the family Rheidae) that resemble but are smaller than the African ostrich and that have three toes, a fully feathered head and neck, an undeveloped tail, and pale gray to brownish feathers that droop over the rump and back

Illustration of rhea

Illustration of rhea

Examples of rhea in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There, near the border with Chile, the 1,722-square-mile park encompasses subantarctic forests that preserve habitats for species such as the guemal, puma, rhea, condor, guanaco, and the calafate plant. Melissa Findley, National Geographic, 20 Nov. 2020 The celestial emu, which is found in Aboriginal traditions across Australia, shares nearly identical views and traditions with the Tupi people of Brazil and Bolivia, who see it as a celestial rhea, another large flightless bird. Simon Cropper, Quartz, 21 Aug. 2019 But as with some restaurants in Buenos Aires are giving choripán a makeover, like Los Infernales, with chorizo made from the tiny ostrich-ish rhea, and Chori, dedicated to modern takes on the sandwich. Luke Darby, GQ, 29 July 2017 Emus are a stately five to six feet (one to two meters) long, and cassowaries and greater rheas aren’t far behind. Liz Langley, National Geographic, 3 Sep. 2016 Today’s ostriches, rheas, and cassowaries are not substitutes for the terror birds, just as the fact that birds are living dinosaurs provides little solace for those who have the impossible wish of seeing a living Tyrannosaurus or Allosaurus. Brian Switek, WIRED, 12 Feb. 2011

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rhea.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of rhea

1797, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rhea

New Latin, genus of birds, probably from Latin Rhea, mother of Zeus, from Greek

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Cite this Entry

“Rhea.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhea. Accessed 7 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for rhea


\ ˈrē-ə How to pronounce rhea (audio) \

Kids Definition of rhea

: a tall flightless South American bird that resembles but is smaller than the ostrich

More from Merriam-Webster on rhea

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rhea


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