One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Designating a conformation of the bones of the palate typical of passerine birds, with the maxillopalatines separate and the vomer broad and truncated at the front; exhibiting such a palatal structure, which is found also in woodpeckers and swifts (formerly grouped with passerines in a division called Aegithognathae).
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Thomas Huxley (1825–1895), biologist and science educationist. From classical Latin aegithus, small bird, perhaps the blue tit, or its etymon ancient Greek αἴγιθος, a kind of small bird, of unknown origin + -gnathous.
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