Definition of pterodactyl in English:



  • 1A pterosaur of the late Jurassic period, with a long slender head and neck and a very short tail.

    Family Pterodactylidae, order Pterosauria: several genera, including Pterodactylus

    ‘Other anatomical features, such as attachment points for powerful neck muscles, support the idea that giant pterodactyls once plowed the waters for food.’
    ‘Earlier, Witmer and others had performed a similar study on fossils of the flying reptiles called pterodactyls, which are not related to Archaeopteryx.’
    1. 1.1(in general use) any pterosaur.
      • ‘I decided on a pterodactyl, a dinosaur with a distinct advantage over most dinosaurs: the ability to fly like an eagle.’
      • ‘Based on widely accepted criteria, pterodactyls and other pterosaurs are not dinosaurs.’
      • ‘Birds, close cousins of pterodactyls, are believed to have evolved from theropod dinosaurs about 150 million years ago.’
      • ‘Similarly, there's no creationist reason why the pterodactyls shouldn't have a fur-like covering - yet no evolutionist believes that pterodactyls evolved into mammals.’


Early 19th century from modern Latin Pterodactylus (genus name), from Greek pteron ‘wing’ + daktulos ‘finger’.