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

  • n. Either of the leathery or chitinous forewings of a beetle or a related insect, serving to encase the thin, membranous hind wings used in flight. Also called wing case.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. One of the shieldlike dorsal scales of certain annelids. See chætopoda.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See elytrum.

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

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


New Latin, from Greek elutron, sheath.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ἔλυτρον (elutron, "sheath"). (Wiktionary)



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  • /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 (New York: Viking, 2014)

    December 26, 2015

  • Greek
    (To?) Cover.

    July 11, 2008