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

  • noun Either of the leathery or chitinous forewings of a beetle or a related insect, serving to encase the membranous hind wings used in flight.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun See elytrum.

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

  • noun One of the anterior pair of wings in the Coleoptera and some other insects, when they are thick and serve only as a protection for the posterior pair.
  • noun One of the shieldlike dorsal scales of certain annelids. See chætopoda.

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

  • noun A sheath or outer covering, especially around the spinal cord or over the hindwings of certain insects.

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

  • noun either of the horny front wings in beetles and some other insects which cover and protect the functional hind wings


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

[New Latin, from Greek elutron, sheath; see wel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek ἔλυτρον (elutron, "sheath").



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  • Greek

    (To?) Cover.

    July 11, 2008

  • /Darwin/ did not study his beetle catches very intensively and performed no dissections, so he may indeed have missed the genital wonders that lay hidden beneath their elytra.

    Menno Schilthuizen, Nature's Nether Regions: What the Sex Lives of Bugs, Birds, and Beasts Tell Us About Evolution, Biodiversity, and Ourselves</i> (New York: Viking, 2014)

    December 26, 2015