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[awr-nuh-thop-ter] /ˌɔr nəˈθɒp tər/
a heavier-than-air craft designed to be propelled through the air by flapping wings.
Origin of ornithopter
< French ornithoptère (1908), equivalent to ornitho- ornitho- + -ptère < Greek -pteros -pterous Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ornithopter
Historical Examples
  • The ornithopter has hinged planes which work like the wings of a bird.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • Wing—Strictly speaking, a wing is one of the surfaces of an ornithopter.

  • Have a knowledge of the theory of the aeroplane, helicopter, and ornithopter, and of the spherical and dirigible balloon.

  • This experiment remains as the greatest success yet achieved by any machine constructed on the ornithopter principle.

    A History of Aeronautics E. Charles Vivian
  • Red clover bent and writhed in the artificial wind from the ornithopter wings.

    Thy Rocks and Rills Robert Ernest Gilbert
  • ornithopter (or Orthopter)—A flapping wing design of aircraft intended to imitate the flight of a bird.

  • The ornithopter landed with a certain skilful precision and its wings ceased to beat.

    The Fifth-Dimension Tube William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • The six men on the ornithopter put their shoulders to their machine and trundled it out of the way.

    The Fifth-Dimension Tube William Fitzgerald Jenkins
British Dictionary definitions for ornithopter


a heavier-than-air craft sustained in and propelled through the air by flapping wings Also called orthopter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ornithopter

1908, from French ornithoptère (1908), a machine designed to fly be mechanical flapping of wings, from ornitho- + Greek pteron "wing" (see pterodactyl). A mode of flight considered promising at least since Leonardo's day.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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