any of a number of genera of flying reptiles of the extinct order Pterosauria, from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, having a highly reduced tail and teeth and a birdlike beak.

1820–30; < Neo-Latin Pterodactylus genus name, equivalent to Greek pteró(n) wing + -daktylos -dactylous

pterodactylic, pterodactylous, adjective
pterodactylid, adjective, noun
pterodactyloid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pterodactyl (ˌtɛrəˈdæktɪl)
See also pterosaur any extinct flying reptile of the genus Pterodactylus and related genera, having membranous wings supported on an elongated fourth digit
[C19: from ptero- + Greek daktulos finger]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1830, from Fr. ptérodactyle (1821), from the Mod.L. genus name, from Gk. pteron "wing" (from PIE base *pet- "fly;" see petition) + daktylos "finger" (see dactyl).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
pterodactyl   (těr'ə-dāk'təl)  Pronunciation Key 

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Any of various small, extinct flying reptiles (pterosaurs) of the genus Pterodactylus of the late Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. Pterodactyls had long, narrow jaws with sharp teeth, and a wingspan of 1 m (3.3 ft) or less.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The evolutionary life of the nation-state will turn out to be far shorter than that of the pterodactyl.
The same could be said for bat wings, bird wings, and pterodactyl wings.
Its large form was unmistakable, reminiscent of a pterodactyl.
It's almost prehistoric, something you imagine a pterodactyl would make.
Related Words
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