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[puh-tel-uh] /pəˈtɛl ə/
noun, plural patellas, patellae
[puh-tel-ee] /pəˈtɛl i/ (Show IPA)
Anatomy. the flat, movable bone at the front of the knee; kneecap.
Biology. a panlike or cuplike formation.
Zoology. any limpet of the family Patellidae.
Archaeology. a small pan or shallow vessel.
Origin of patella
1665-75; < Latin, diminutive of patina, patena pan, literally, something wide open. See paten, -elle
Related forms
patellar, adjective
postpatellar, adjective
subpatellar, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for patella


noun (pl) -lae (-liː)
(anatomy) a small flat triangular bone in front of and protecting the knee joint Nontechnical name kneecap
(biology) a cuplike structure, such as the spore-producing body of certain ascomycetous fungi
(archaeol) a small pan
Derived Forms
patellar, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from patina shallow pan
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 patella

"knee cap," 1690s, from Latin patella "pan, kneecap," diminutive of patina "pan" (see pan (n.)). So called from its shape. Related: Patellar; patelliform.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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patella in Medicine

patella pa·tel·la (pə-těl'ə)
n. pl. pa·tel·lae (-těl'ē)

  1. A flat triangular bone located in the combined tendon of the extensors of the leg and covering the front surface of the knee joint. Also called kneecap.

  2. A pan-shaped anatomical formation.

pa·tel'lar or pa·tel'late (-těl'ĭt, -āt') adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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patella in Science
Plural patellae (pə-těl'ē)
The small, flat, movable bone at the front of the knee in most mammals. Also called kneecap. See more at skeleton.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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