[ ros-truhm ]
/ ˈrɒs trəm /
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noun, plural ros·tra [ros-truh], /ˈrɒs trə/, ros·trums.
any platform, stage, or the like, for public speaking.
a pulpit.
a beaklike projection from the prow of a ship, especially one on an ancient warship for ramming an enemy ship; beak; ram.
Roman Antiquity. (in the forum) the raised platform, adorned with the beaks of captured warships, from which orations, pleadings, etc., were delivered.
Biology. a beaklike process or extension of some part; rostellum.
British Theater. a raised platform or dais, especially one with hinged sides that can be folded and stored within a relatively small space.
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Origin of rostrum

1570–80; <Latin rōstrum snout, bill, beak of a bird, ship's prow (in plural, speaker's platform), equivalent to rōd(ere) to gnaw, bite (cf. rodent) + -trum instrumental suffix, with dt>st
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does rostrum mean?

Rostrum most commonly means a kind of platform for public speaking.

Close synonyms are podium and lectern. A pulpit can also be called a rostrum.

Rostrum also has a few very different meanings.

In biology, a rostrum is 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 and platforms with the rostrums of captured ships (or with representations of them). This led to the use of the word rostrum to refer to a speaking platform.

The adjective rostral can be used to describe such columns (called rostral columns). Rostral is also used in the context of anatomy, especially of animals, to describe things that have or resemble a beak or snout.

The correct plural form of rostrum can be rostrums or rostra.

Example: I’m always nervous before a big speech, but I become calm as soon as I step onto the rostrum.

Where does rostrum come from?

The first records of the word rostrum in English come from the 1500s. It 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).

The word rostrum is used to mean slightly different things in different contexts and places, such as in a theater or an orchestra venue. In a church, the rostrum is the pulpit. In any case, rostrums are usually raised in some way so that the audience can see the speaker.

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What are some other forms related to rostrum?

  • rostrums (plural)
  • rostra (plural)
  • rostral (adjective)

What are some synonyms for rostrum?

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


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

How is rostrum used in real life?

Rostrum is most commonly used to refer to a speaking platform.



Try using rostrum!

Which of the following words is a synonym of rostrum?

A. podium
B. dais
C. lectern
D. all of the above

How to use rostrum in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for rostrum

/ (ˈrɒstrəm) /

noun plural -trums or -tra (-trə)
any platform, stage, or dais on which public speakers stand to address an audience
a platform or dais in front of an orchestra on which the conductor stands
another word for ram (def. 5)
the prow or beak of an ancient Roman ship
biology zoology a beak or beaklike part

Word Origin for rostrum

C16: from Latin rōstrum beak, ship's prow, from rōdere to nibble, gnaw; in plural, rōstra, orator's platform, because this platform in the Roman forum was adorned with the prows of captured ships
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