[proh-bos-is, -kis]

noun, plural pro·bos·cis·es, pro·bos·ci·des [proh-bos-i-deez] /proʊˈbɒs ɪˌdiz/.

the trunk of an elephant.
any long flexible snout, as of the tapir.
Also called beak. the elongate, protruding mouth parts of certain insects, adapted for sucking or piercing.
any of various elongate feeding, defensive, or sensory organs of the oral region, as in certain leeches and worms.
Facetious. the human nose, especially when unusually long or prominent.

Origin of proboscis

1570–80; < Latin < Greek proboskís elephant's trunk, literally, feeder, equivalent to pro- pro-2 + bósk(ein) to feed + -is (stem -id-) noun suffix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for proboscis

snout, snoot, beak, organ, trunk, haustellum

Examples from the Web for proboscis

Historical Examples of proboscis

  • The elephant thrust his proboscis into the lake, which disturbed the reflection.

    Moon Lore

    Timothy Harley

  • The scarcest monkey in Borneo is the proboscis, or long-nosed.

  • He tried his proboscis upon one curiosity after another, in vain.

    Rollo's Museum

    Jacob Abbott

  • One of them, a round one, fell on the floor, just out of reach of his proboscis.'

    Animal Intelligence

    George J. Romanes

  • In the grub he has detected the rudiment of the wing and proboscis of the future being.

    The Insect

    Jules Michelet

British Dictionary definitions for proboscis


noun plural -cises or -cides (-sɪˌdiːz)

a long flexible prehensile trunk or snout, as of an elephant
the elongated mouthparts of certain insects, adapted for piercing or sucking food
any similar part or organ
informal, facetious a person's nose, esp if large

Word Origin for proboscis

C17: via Latin from Greek proboskis trunk of an elephant, from boskein to feed
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

Word Origin and History for proboscis

c.1600, "elephant's trunk," from Latin proboscis (Pliny), from Greek proboskis "elephant's trunk," literally "means for taking food," from pro "forward" (see pro-) + boskein "to nourish, feed," from boskesthai "graze, be fed," from stem *bot- (cf. botane "grass, fodder;" see botanic).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

proboscis in Science



Plural proboscises proboscides (prō-bŏsĭ-dēz′)

A long, flexible snout or trunk, as of an elephant.
The slender, tubular feeding and sucking organ of certain invertebrates, such as butterflies and mosquitoes.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.