[ al-trish-uh l ]
/ ælˈtrɪʃ əl /

adjective Zoology. (of an animal species)

helpless at birth or hatching and requiring parental care for a period of time (opposed to precocial.)


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Origin of altricial

1870–75; < Latin altrīc-, stem of altrīx wet nurse, nourisher (al(ere) to nourish (cf. aliment) + -trīx -trix) + -al1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for altricial

/ (ælˈtrɪʃəl) /


(of the young of some species of birds after hatching) naked, blind, and dependent on the parents for food


an altricial bird, such as a pigeon
Compare precocial

Word Origin for altricial

C19: from New Latin altriciālis, from Latin altrix a nurse, from alere to nourish
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

Scientific definitions for altricial

[ ăl-trĭshəl ]

Born or hatched in a helpless condition requiring prolonged parental care, as by being naked, blind, or unable to move about. Nesting birds, monotremes, marsupials, and carnivores have altricial young. Compare precocial.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.