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noun, plural pa·tel·las, pa·tel·lae [puh-tel-ee] /pəˈtɛl i/.
  1. Anatomy. the flat, movable bone at the front of the knee; kneecap.
  2. Biology. a panlike or cuplike formation.
  3. Zoology. any limpet of the family Patellidae.
  4. Archaeology. a small pan or shallow vessel.
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Origin of patella

1665–75; < Latin, diminutive of patina, patena pan, literally, something wide open. See paten, -elle
Related formspa·tel·lar, adjectivepost·pa·tel·lar, adjectivesub·pa·tel·lar, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for patella


noun plural -lae (-liː)
  1. anatomy a small flat triangular bone in front of and protecting the knee jointNontechnical name: kneecap
  2. biology a cuplike structure, such as the spore-producing body of certain ascomycetous fungi
  3. archaeol a small pan
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Derived Formspatellar, 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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

patella in Medicine


n. pl. pa•tel•lae (-tĕlē)
  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.kneecap
  2. A pan-shaped anatomical formation.
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Related formspa•tellar null adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

patella in Science


Plural patellae (pə-tĕlē)
  1. The small, flat, movable bone at the front of the knee in most mammals. Also called kneecap See more at skeleton.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.