Definition of ratite in English:


Pronunciation /ˈratīt/ /ˈrætaɪt/


  • (of a bird) having a flat breastbone without a keel, and so unable to fly.

    • ‘When the ratite birds first roamed Gondwana, they could walk from any of the places where they later dwelt, to any other.’
    • ‘About 30 years ago, Joel Cracraft sketched out the central melodies of ratite evolution.’
    • ‘They may well have been native to Africa - just one link in a continuous chain of ratite species that circled Gondwana until it broke up.’
    • ‘Further data of the energetic cost of breeding for males and females of other ratite species would be valuable for testing that hypothesis.’
    • ‘What aspect of the ratite genome accounts for the larger size relative to volant birds?’


  • Any of the mostly large, flightless birds with a ratite breastbone, i.e. the ostrich, rhea, emu, cassowary, and kiwi, together with the extinct moa and elephant bird.

    • ‘Other ratites, the elephant bird of Madagascar and the moas of New Zealand, have been extinct for several centuries, probably as a result of human hunting.’
    • ‘Moas were ratites, flightless birds considered the sister group of all other birds.’
    • ‘Cassowaries are large ratites, and are among the largest birds in the world.’
    • ‘Living relatives of moa include the emus, ostrich, and kiwi, which are members of a bird group called ratites.’
    • ‘They are found in mammals, turtles, squamates, and crocodilians, as well as a few bird taxa, particularly ratites and ducks.’
    • ‘They belonged to a primitive group of birds known as ratites.’


Late 19th century from Latin ratis ‘raft’+ -ite.



/ˈratīt/ /ˈrætaɪt/