from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small joint in the middle of a bird's wing, homologous with the thumb and bearing three or four quill-like feathers.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In ornithology, the winglet, bastard wing, or ala spuria of a bird; the packet of small feathers which grows upon the so-called thumb of a bird's wing.
  • In entomology: The small membranous appendage or scale situated at the base of each wing of many dipterous insects, above the halteres or poisers.
  • A similar appendage beneath each elytron of some water-beetles. Also called alulet and cucilleron.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A false or bastard wing. See under bastard.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Bastard wing. A small projection on the anterior edge of the wing on some birds.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun scalelike structure between the base of the wing and the halter of a two-winged fly
  • noun tuft of small stiff feathers on the first digit of a bird's wing


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[New Latin, diminutive of Latin āla, wing.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin; diminutive of ala ("wing").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word alula.


  • Viki remembers the mysterious figure in the dark calling her 'alula' and, as she does some research, the first of a series of startling events that will change her life forever unfold.


  • But the alula opened properly and I decided I must have been overcontrolling, easy to do with Storer-Gulls; they're extremely maneuverable.

    The Past Through Tomorrow

  • They're lovely -- titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird bones, tension-compensated wrist-pinion and shoulder joints, natural action in the alula slots, and automatic flap action in stalling.

    The Past Through Tomorrow

  • While it was cycling I opened my left wing and thumbed the alula control -- I had noticed a tendency to sideslip the last time I was airborne.

    The Past Through Tomorrow

  • Two years ago a boy who had just graduated from orange wings tried it ... knocked off his left alula and primaries on a strut -- went fluttering and spinning down two thousand feet and crashed.

    The Past Through Tomorrow

  • Lobulus: the partly separated portion of the wings of some flies and of secondaries in some Hymenoptera: also used as = alula; q.v. Lobus: of maxilla = galea; q.v. Locomotion: organs of, are legs and wings.

    Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology

  • Axillary lobe: the sclerite covering the base of the wing in Diptera; see also alula and posterior lobe.

    Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology

  • Alulet: Diptera: the lobe at basal posterior part of wing; = alar appendage; posterior lobe: and has been used as = alula.

    Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology

  • Aileron: the scale covering the base of primaries in some insects; see tegulae in Diptera = alula and squama, q.v. Air-sacs or vesicles: pouch-like expansions of tracheal tubes in heavy insects, capable of inflation and supposed to lessen specific gravity.

    Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology

  • Axillary excision: = a. incision, q.v. Axillary incision: Diptera; an incision on inner margin of wing, near base, which separates the alula from the main part.

    Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology


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  • A small group of feathers attached to the first "finger" (at the bend) of a bird's wing; they reduce turbulence and drag and assist with "braking" and "steering."

    September 25, 2007

  • ...and a palindrome on wings to fly

    February 14, 2012