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  1. having a flat, unkeeled sternum, as an ostrich, cassowary, emu, or moa.
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  1. a bird having a ratite breastbone.
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Origin of ratite

1875–80; < Latin rat(is) raft + -ite2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ratite

Historical Examples

  • The arrangement bears a great resemblance to that of Ratite birds.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton

    Sidney H. Reynolds

  • Like other Ratite birds it will take to the water, and examples have been seen voluntarily swimming a wide river.

  • Lastly must be noted the extinct tall Ratite species of Aepyornis with its several fancy genera.

British Dictionary definitions for ratite


  1. (of flightless birds) having a breastbone that lacks a keel for the attachment of flight muscles
  2. of or denoting the flightless birds, formerly classified as a group (the Ratitae), that have a flat breastbone, feathers lacking vanes, and reduced wings
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  1. a bird, such as an ostrich, kiwi, or rhea, that belongs to this group; a flightless bird
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Word Origin

C19: from Latin ratis raft
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