Definition of malleus in US English:


nounPlural mallei

  • A small bone in the middle ear which transmits vibrations of the eardrum to the incus.

    • ‘The air pressure on either side of the eardrum is normally kept equal for proper functioning of the middle ear structures, namely the malleus, incus and stapes bones.’
    • ‘Mammals have three, the stapes, the malleus, and incus, the last two being the old reptilian jaw joint still conserved deep within our ear.’
    • ‘In mammals they are called the malleus, incus and stapes.’
    • ‘Urbantschitsch has provided detailed measurements of the malleus, incus and the stapes.’
    • ‘The malleus, or hammer, is the largest of the three ossicles.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin, literally ‘hammer’.