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[truhngk] /trʌŋk/
the main stem of a tree, as distinct from the branches and roots.
a large, sturdy box or chest for holding or transporting clothes, personal effects, or other articles.
a large compartment, usually in the rear of an automobile, in which luggage, a spare tire, and other articles may be kept.
the body of a person or an animal excluding the head and limbs; torso.
Ichthyology. the part of a fish between the head and the anus.
  1. the shaft of a column.
  2. the dado or die of a pedestal.
the main channel, artery, or line in a river, railroad, highway, canal, or other tributary system.
Telephony, Telegraphy.
  1. a telephone line or channel between two central offices or switching devices that is used in providing telephone connections between subscribers generally.
  2. a telegraph line or channel between two main or central offices.
Anatomy. the main body of an artery, nerve, or the like, as distinct from its branches.
  1. brief shorts, loose-fitting or tight, worn by men chiefly for boxing, swimming, and track.
  2. Obsolete. trunk hose.
the long, flexible, cylindrical nasal appendage of the elephant.
  1. a large enclosed passage through the decks or bulkheads of a vessel, for cooling, ventilation, or the like.
  2. any of various watertight casings in a vessel, as the vertical one above the slot for a centerboard in the bottom of a boat.
a conduit; shaft; chute.
of, relating to, or noting a main channel or line, as of a railroad or river.
Origin of trunk
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English trunke < Latin truncus stem, trunk, stump, noun use of truncus lopped
Related forms
trunkless, adjective
subtrunk, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for trunks
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I will return and take my trunks," she said; and a carriage was called.

  • These piles were stems, or trunks of trees, sharpened with stone or bronze tools.

    English Villages P. H. Ditchfield
  • Do me the favour to see to the trunks, if you please, Mr Pinch.'

  • See that I have my trunks, for there was nothing about the Custom-house in my contract.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • There are no sounds of life, no trunks in the hall, and no idlers at the door.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
British Dictionary definitions for trunks


plural noun
Also called swimming trunks. a man's garment worn for swimming, either fairly loose and extending from the waist to the thigh or briefer and close-fitting
shorts worn for some sports
(mainly Brit) men's underpants with legs that reach midthigh


the main stem of a tree, usually thick and upright, covered with bark and having branches at some distance from the ground
a large strong case or box used to contain clothes and other personal effects when travelling and for storage
(anatomy) the body excluding the head, neck, and limbs; torso
the elongated prehensile nasal part of an elephant; proboscis
(US & Canadian) Also called (Brit, Austral., NZ, and South African) boot. an enclosed compartment of a car for holding luggage, etc, usually at the rear
(anatomy) the main stem of a nerve, blood vessel, etc
(nautical) a watertight boxlike cover within a vessel with its top above the waterline, such as one used to enclose a centreboard
an enclosed duct or passageway for ventilation, etc
(modifier) of or relating to a main road, railway, etc, in a network: a trunk line
See also trunks
Derived Forms
trunkful, noun
trunkless, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Old French tronc, from Latin truncus, from truncus (adj) lopped
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for trunks



mid-15c., "box, case," from Old French tronc "alms box in a church" (12c.), also "trunk of a tree, trunk of the human body," from Latin truncus, originally "mutilated, cut off." The meaning "box, case" is likely to be from the notion of the body as the "case" of the organs. English acquired the other two senses of the Old French in late 15c.: "main stem of a tree" and "torso of a human body." The sense of "luggage compartment of a motor vehicle" is from 1930. The use in reference to an elephant's snout is from 1560s, perhaps from confusion with trump (short for trumpet). Railroad trunk line is attested from 1843; telephone version is from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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trunks in Medicine

trunk (trŭngk)

  1. The body excluding the head and limbs.

  2. The main stem of a blood vessel or nerve apart from the branches.

  3. A large collecting lymphatic vessel.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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