Definitions

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

  • n. Zoology A wing or winglike structure or part.
  • n. Anatomy A flat, winglike anatomic process or part, especially of bone.
  • n. Botany The flattened border of some stems, fruits, and seeds, or either one of the two side petals of certain flowers in the pea family.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A wing or winglike structure.
  • n. A winglike anatomical process or part, especially of bone.
  • n. The flattened border of some stems, fruits, and seeds, or one of the two side petals of certain flowers in the pea family.
  • n. In ancient Rome, a small room opening into a larger room or courtyard.
  • prep. Alternative form of a la.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A winglike organ, or part.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In botany: One of the two side petals of a papilionaceous blossom, or the membranous expansion of an organ, as of a fruit, seed, stem, etc. See cut under banner.
  • n. In mosses, one of the basal lobes or auricles of the leaves.
  • n. An axilla or axil.
  • n. In anat., zoöl., etc.:
  • n. A wing.
  • n. Any part of a wing-like or flap-like character: as, ala auris, the upper and outer part of the external ear.
  • n. The armpit.
  • n. plural Specifically, in Cirripedia, the lateral parts of the shell, as distinguished from the parietes, when they are overlapped by others; when they overlap they are termed radii.
  • n. In anc. Rom. arch., a wing or a small apartment placed on each side of the atrium of a Roman house. Audsley.

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

  • n. a wing of an insect
  • n. a flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism

Etymologies

Latin āla, wing.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Originated 1730–40 from Latin āla ("wing"). (Wiktionary)
From French à la, by way of its English derivation a la. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • This is used by Bugalkov in The Master and Margarita in the opening paragraphs of "The Execution." It seems to be used in the context of a military formation's wing--in this case the cavalry's wing.

    November 28, 2007

  • lit., "wing," in Latin; can refer to the wings of the ilium in the hip bone (os innominata), or the flarings of the inferior nose which are pierced by the nostrils (the ala nasi).

    December 10, 2006