Definition of ratite in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈratīt/


(Of a bird) having a flat breastbone without a keel, and so unable to fly. Contrasted with carinate.
Example sentences
  • When the ratite birds first roamed Gondwana, they could walk from any of the places where they later dwelt, to any other.
  • About 30 years ago, Joel Cracraft sketched out the central melodies of ratite evolution.
  • They may well have been native to Africa - just one link in a continuous chain of ratite species that circled Gondwana until it broke up.


Any of the mostly large, flightless birds with a ratite breastbone, i.e., the ostrich, rhea, emu, cassowary, and kiwi, together with the extinct moa and elephant bird.
Example sentences
  • Other ratites, the elephant bird of Madagascar and the moas of New Zealand, have been extinct for several centuries, probably as a result of human hunting.
  • Moas were ratites, flightless birds considered the sister group of all other birds.
  • Cassowaries are large ratites, and are among the largest birds in the world.


Late 19th century: from Latin ratis 'raft' + -ite1.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: rat·ite

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