[ ter-uh-dak-til ]
/ ˌtɛr əˈdæk tɪl /


any of a number of genera of flying reptiles of the extinct order Pterosauria, from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, having a highly reduced tail and teeth and a birdlike beak.

Nearby words

  1. pteridophyte,
  2. pteridosperm,
  3. pterion,
  4. ptero-,
  5. pterocarpous,
  6. pteroma,
  7. pteron,
  8. pteropod,
  9. pteropodium,
  10. pteropterin

Origin of pterodactyl

1820–30; < New Latin Pterodactylus genus name, equivalent to Greek pteró(n) wing + -daktylos -dactylous

Related formspter·o·dac·tyl·ic, pter·o·dac·tyl·ous, adjectivepter·o·dac·tyl·id, adjective, nounpter·o·dac·tyl·oid, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pterodactyl

British Dictionary definitions for pterodactyl


/ (ˌtɛrəˈdæktɪl) /


any extinct flying reptile of the genus Pterodactylus and related genera, having membranous wings supported on an elongated fourth digitSee also pterosaur

Word Origin for pterodactyl

C19: from ptero- + Greek daktulos finger

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 pterodactyl



extinct flying reptile, 1830, from French ptérodactyle (1821), from Modern Latin genus name Pterodactylus, from Greek pteron "wing" (see ptero-) + daktylos "finger" (see dactyl).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for pterodactyl


[ tĕr′ə-dăktəl ]

Any of various small, extinct flying reptiles (pterosaurs) of the genus Pterodactylus of the late Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. Pterodactyls had long, narrow jaws with sharp teeth, and a wingspan of 1 m (3.3 ft) or less.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.