Definition of maxilla in US English:


nounPlural maxillae

Zoology Anatomy
  • 1The jaw or jawbone, specifically the upper jaw in most vertebrates. In humans it also forms part of the nose and eye socket.

    • ‘The maxilla fuses with the vomer bone and the nasal septum.’
    • ‘There are five large teeth on the maxillae (upper jaw bone), rather short canines, and at least twenty small and uniform post-canines.’
    • ‘Anteriorly, the ventral margin of the maxilla curves dorsally.’
    • ‘Two major bones of the upper jaw, the maxilla, and the premaxilla, were previously firmly attached to the skull and had teeth.’
    • ‘It may also have had a role in giving some minor flexibility to the snout, as it tends to insert ventrally between the maxilla and premaxilla, and dorsally between the nasal and premaxilla.’
    jawbone, lower jaw, mandible
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (in many arthropods) each of a pair of mouthparts used in chewing.
      • ‘In the dried skin, the maxilla is blackish except for the tip, which is paler.’
      • ‘The right maxilla, measuring 4.5 x 4.5 x 5 cm, was received for pathologic evaluation.’
      • ‘The mouthparts consist of a pair of mandibles and 2 pairs of maxillae.’
      • ‘Behind the mandibles, Mandibulata bear one, or more typically, two pairs of maxillae, frequently with a long palp, as in the second maxilla of Macrocyclops.’
      • ‘First, Protohadros has a very large pair of maxillae.’


Late Middle English: from Latin, ‘jaw’.