Definition of proboscis in English:

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Pronunciation: /prəˈbäsəs/
Pronunciation: /prəˈbäskis/

noun (plural proboscises, proboscides /-ˈbäsəˌdēz/, or probosces /-ˈbäsēz/)

1The nose of a mammal, especially when it is long and mobile, such as the trunk of an elephant or the snout of a tapir.
Example sentences
  • All tapirs have a short, fleshy proboscis formed by the snout and upper lips.
  • Next, it extends its proboscis, a beak neatly folded under its head, and pierces the skin of its victim.
  • It uses its trunk, or proboscis, to gather food and water and also to play, fight, feel its surroundings and detect smells.
1.1 Entomology (In many insects) an elongated sucking mouthpart that is typically tubular and flexible.
Example sentences
  • Its proboscis, which looks like a nose but is actually the longest mouthpart of any known fly, protrudes as much as four inches from its head - five times the length of its bee-size body.
  • On the underside of the head is the paired proboscis, which is used to suck nectar from flowers.
  • When the hawk moth proboscises were long compared to the length of the flower tube, the hawk moths did not efficiently pick up pollen, and the flowers did not reproduce well.
1.2 Zoology (In some worms) an extensible tubular sucking organ.
Example sentences
  • Echiurans have an extensible proboscis and a set of small hooks at the posterior end; hence the Latin name of the phylum, ‘spine-tails.’
  • Its remarkable fidelity enabled him to recognize that I was wrong: the segmented worm with a proboscis probably is not a nematode, but an annelid.
  • They are carnivorous, scavenging among carrion or preying on other molluscs, using their extensible proboscis, tipped with a radula, to reach into and extract nourishment from their victims.


Early 17th century: via Latin from Greek proboskis 'means of obtaining food', from pro 'before' + boskein '(cause to) feed'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pro·bos·cis

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