Definition of trunk in English:

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Pronunciation: /trʌŋk/


1The main woody stem of a tree as distinct from its branches and roots.
Example sentences
  • Trees with large trunks and deep anchoring roots represent the ultimate challenge in withstanding oxygen-deprivation in wetland habitats.
  • He then sat down with his back to Hunter and Jason and began rooting through the fallen trunk of a tree.
  • Many plants have a number of distinct organs: roots, stems or trunks, leaves, fertile parts.
main stem, bole, stock
1.1The main part of an artery, nerve, or other anatomical structure from which smaller branches arise.
Example sentences
  • The main trunk of the stapedial artery atrophies and its origin from the internal carotid disappears.
  • The posterior communicating artery is sometimes joined with the middle cerebral artery instead of the trunk of the internal carotid.
  • These plaques can extend to the great veins, coronary sinus, pulmonary trunk, and main pulmonary arteries.
1.2An enclosed shaft or conduit for cables or ventilation.
Example sentences
  • We have also strange and artificial echoes and we have means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes in strange lines and distances.
  • Tailor-welded blanks are used in the doors, but the trunk is laser welded and built with two sets of tools.
  • Workers cleaned and repaired the Baghdad trunk sewer line and its associated manholes and pumping stations.
2A person’s or animal’s body apart from the limbs and head.
Example sentences
  • The somites, now positioned on either side of the neural tube, give rise to the vertebrae and ribs, to the muscles of the trunk and limbs, and also contribute to the dermis of the skin.
  • The rash usually starts on the trunk of the body in red bumps.
  • They are unlike chickenpox, which develops first on the trunk of the body and is seen in various stages of development.
torso, body
3The elongated, prehensile nose of an elephant.
Example sentences
  • The trunk of an Asian elephant is so exquisitely prehensile that it can pick up a dime from a concrete floor.
  • The elephants nosed their trunks toward the stream, taking sips with two finger-like appendages.
  • The bones belong to an animal in the order Proboscidea - large mammals with trunks - the same order that includes living elephants.
proboscis, nose, snout
4A large box with a hinged lid for storing or transporting clothes and other articles.
Example sentences
  • These tiny documents were purchased by a flea market trader in a trunk stored in the attic of a prominent Savannah family during the dispersal of an estate.
  • She took her few clothes from her trunk and walked to the wardrobe with them.
  • Two trunks with property are stored under the bed, and also two TVs, one on a fold-out desk, the other on a shelf for the top bunk.
chest, box, storage box, crate, coffer;
suitcase, case, portmanteau;
South African  kist
5North American The boot of a car.
Example sentences
  • He lifted my luggage out of the trunk and carried it up the stairs, hardly granting me a look as he passed us and went inside.
  • Both the rear seat and trunk get decent space, and sliding in and out of the car is considerably easier.
  • Right now we don't generate enough to have a car with a very heavy frame, trunk space, glove compartment, cup holders and air conditioning.
luggage compartment;
British  boot



Pronunciation: /ˈtrʌŋkfʊl/
noun (plural trunkfuls)
Example sentences
  • The elephants are shovelling great trunkfuls of fruit into their mouths.
  • You won't catch us sniggering at the idea of someone packing a trunkful of jeans for different leg-size days.
  • Much of the fashion is museum quality eighteenth and nineteenth century costumes, including trunkfuls of grand Russian court ball gowns.


Example sentences
  • But this tapirlike animal seems to have been trunkless.
  • Sporadically interspersed with the trees are stands of trunkless Attalea palms, from which the brown capuchins forage for the palm nuts - an unlikely habitat to find monkeys at all, let alone capuchins.


Late Middle English: from Old French tronc, from Latin truncus.

  • Trunk comes via Old French from Latin truncus ‘the main stem of a tree’. The word has branched out in several directions. The meaning ‘a tree's main stem’ is behind the sense ‘the human body’ and others with the notion of a central connection, such as trunk road. The ‘chest, box’ meaning arose because early trunks were made out of tree trunks. The circular shape of a tree trunk prompted another branch referring to cylindrical hollow objects, including, in the 16th century, the elephant's trunk. In the 16th and early 17th centuries men wore trunk-hose, full breeches extending to the upper thighs and sometimes padded, worn over tights. The style went out of fashion, but in the theatre actors wore short light breeches over tights, which they called trunks. In late 19th-century America men's shorts for swimming or boxing took over the name. Truncheon (Middle English) comes from the same root. In early use this referred to a piece broken off from, for example, a spear and was also a word for a cudgel. The word came to refer to a staff carried as a symbol of office from the late 16th century and eventually (late 19th century) to a short club carried by a police officer. Truncate (Late Middle English) is unconnected, being from Latin truncare ‘maim’.

Words that rhyme with trunk

bunk, chunk, clunk, drunk, dunk, flunk, funk, gunk, hunk, Monck, monk, plunk, shrunk, skunk, slunk, stunk, sunk, thunk

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: trunk

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