All Words > Ornithopter

illustration Ornithopter



Part of speech: noun

Origin: French, 20th century


A machine designed to achieve flight by means of flapping wings.

Examples of Ornithopter in a sentence

"The historian assured me that several models of ornithopters were flown short distances in the 19th century."

"The flight museum had a display of pre-Wright brothers flying machines, including an actual French ornithopter."

About Ornithopter

“Ornithopter” is based on the French “ornithoptère.” That word was coined by joining the ancient Greek “ὄρνιθ-“ (“órnith-,” meaning “bird,”) and “πτερόν” (“pterón,” meaning “wing”).

Did you Know?

Today, flight powered by the gliding wings of airplanes or the propellers of helicopters is a reality, but in years past, many people believed the best way to take to the sky would be to mimic a bird. Formed out of the Greek words for “bird” and “wing,” “ornithopters” are flying machines that take flight by flapping wings. The first workable ornithopters were developed in 19th-century France, with a gunpowder-powered model successfully flying 80 meters. Though long eclipsed by airplanes, ornithopters continue to draw fans, many of whom fly radio-controlled ornithopters. These hobby ornithopters strike a markedly antique profile in the sky in contrast to modern drones.

illustration Ornithopter

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