incapable of flying: flightless birds such as the moa, rhea, and dodo.

Origin of flightless

First recorded in 1870–75; flight1 + -less
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for flightless

Historical Examples of flightless

  • There are flightless birds, but they all live in climates in which they can exist at all seasons.

  • It was probably a poor flier, though not flightless, as Fulica chathamensis was.

    Extinct Birds

    Walter Rothschild

  • It is large in the flightless Penguins, which use their wings for swimming.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton

    Sidney H. Reynolds

  • Several of these flightless swans were starved to death in 1902.

  • The wekas or Maori hens are small, flightless birds, averaging when full grown about two and three-quarter pounds.

British Dictionary definitions for flightless



(of certain birds and insects) unable to flySee also ratite
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

Word Origin and History for flightless

1875, from flight (n.1) + -less.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper