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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ornithopter

Historical Examples of ornithopter

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for ornithopter



a heavier-than-air craft sustained in and propelled through the air by flapping wingsAlso 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

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