noun, plural patellas, patellae [puh-tel-ee] .
Anatomy. the flat, movable bone at the front of the knee; kneecap. See diag. under skeleton.
Biology. a panlike or cuplike formation.
Zoology. any limpet of the family Patellidae.
Archaeology. a small pan or shallow vessel.

1665–75; < Latin, diminutive of patina, patena pan, literally, something wide open. See paten, -elle

patellar, adjective
postpatellar, adjective
subpatellar, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
patella (pəˈtɛlə)
n , pl -lae
1.  anatomy Nontechnical name: kneecap a small flat triangular bone in front of and protecting the knee joint
2.  biology a cuplike structure, such as the spore-producing body of certain ascomycetous fungi
3.  archaeol a small pan
[C17: from Latin, from patina shallow pan]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"knee cap," 1693, from L. patella "pan, kneecap," dim. of patina "pan" (see paten). So called from its shape.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

patella pa·tel·la (pə-těl'ə)
n. pl. pa·tel·lae (-těl'ē)

  1. A flat triangular bone located in the combined tendon of the extensors of the leg and covering the front surface of the knee joint. Also called kneecap.

  2. A pan-shaped anatomical formation.

pa·tel'lar or pa·tel'late (-těl'ĭt, -āt') adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
patella   (pə-těl'ə)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural patellae (pə-těl'ē)
The small, flat, movable bone at the front of the knee in most mammals. Also called kneecap. See more at skeleton.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The anterior surface of the patella is subcutaneous.
A luxating patella is a common occurrence in the knee where the leg is often bow shaped.
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