[ ros-truhl ]
/ ˈrɒs trəl /
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of or relating to a rostrum.
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Origin of rostral

1700–10; <Late Latin rōstrālis, equivalent to Latin rōstr(um) rostrum + -ālis-al1


ros·tral·ly, adverbpost·ros·tral, adjectivesub·ros·tral, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does rostral mean?

Rostral is an adjective used to describe things that have or resemble a beak or snout.

More generally, rostral means involving a rostrum, which has several meanings. In biology, it refers to a beak or beaklike part. This sense of the word was extended to refer to the beaklike projection on the prow of a ship, especially one on an ancient Roman warship that was used for ramming enemy ships. The ancient Romans sometimes decorated columns with the rostrums of captured ships (or with representations of them), and the adjective rostral can be used to describe such columns (called rostral columns).

Rostrum perhaps most commonly refers to a kind of platform for public speaking. However, the word rostral is most often used in the context of anatomy, especially of animals.

Example: This species is known for the rostral projection on its head.

Where does rostral come from?

The first records of the word rostral in English come from around 1700. It ultimately comes from the Latin rōstrum, meaning “snout,” “bill,” “beak of a bird,” or “ship’s prow” (when used in its plural form, rōstra, it referred to a speaker’s platform, a reference to the fact that this platform in the Roman forum was decorated with the prows of captured ships).

Though rostral can be used to describe many different things, it typically involves things that project outwards from the front of something, like a beak or snout projects out from an animal’s face. Though the word rostral is usually associated with animal anatomy, it is used in human anatomy as well, such as in relation to parts of the spine.

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What are some other forms related to rostral?

  • rostrally (adverb)
  • postrostral (adjective)
  • subrostral (adjective) 

What are some words that share a root or word element with rostral


What are some words that often get used in discussing rostral?

How is rostral used in real life?

Rostral is often used in the context of animal anatomy.



Try using rostral!

True or False? 

Rostral can be used to describe an architectural column that’s decorated with sculptures of the prows of ships.

How to use rostral in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for rostral

/ (ˈrɒstrəl) /

biology of or like a beak or snout
adorned with the prows of shipsa rostral column
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