See more synonyms for trunk on
  1. the main stem of a tree, as distinct from the branches and roots.
  2. a large, sturdy box or chest for holding or transporting clothes, personal effects, or other articles.
  3. a large compartment, usually in the rear of an automobile, in which luggage, a spare tire, and other articles may be kept.
  4. the body of a person or an animal excluding the head and limbs; torso.
  5. Ichthyology. the part of a fish between the head and the anus.
  6. Architecture.
    1. the shaft of a column.
    2. the dado or die of a pedestal.
  7. the main channel, artery, or line in a river, railroad, highway, canal, or other tributary system.
  8. 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.
  9. Anatomy. the main body of an artery, nerve, or the like, as distinct from its branches.
  10. trunks,
    1. brief shorts, loose-fitting or tight, worn by men chiefly for boxing, swimming, and track.
    2. Obsolete.trunk hose.
  11. the long, flexible, cylindrical nasal appendage of the elephant.
  12. Nautical.
    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.
  13. a conduit; shaft; chute.
  1. of, relating to, or noting a main channel or line, as of a railroad or river.

Origin of trunk

1400–50; late Middle English trunke < Latin truncus stem, trunk, stump, noun use of truncus lopped
Related formstrunk·less, adjectivesub·trunk, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for trunk

Contemporary Examples of trunk

Historical Examples of trunk

  • The station-master was standing on the platform, superintending the removal of a trunk.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • When you pack your wardrobes put a few spring-beds in your trunk.

  • "You'd better be packing your trunk," the Inspector rumbled.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • I could see the tip of One-Tusk's trunk go up with a start every time he winded it.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • We'll bring her trunk down, put it in her room and lay the keys on top.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

British Dictionary definitions for trunk


  1. the main stem of a tree, usually thick and upright, covered with bark and having branches at some distance from the ground
  2. a large strong case or box used to contain clothes and other personal effects when travelling and for storage
  3. anatomy the body excluding the head, neck, and limbs; torso
  4. the elongated prehensile nasal part of an elephant; proboscis
  5. Also called: (Brit, Austral., NZ, and South African) boot US and Canadian an enclosed compartment of a car for holding luggage, etc, usually at the rear
  6. anatomy the main stem of a nerve, blood vessel, etc
  7. nautical a watertight boxlike cover within a vessel with its top above the waterline, such as one used to enclose a centreboard
  8. an enclosed duct or passageway for ventilation, etc
  9. (modifier) of or relating to a main road, railway, etc, in a networka trunk line
See also trunks
Derived Formstrunkful, nountrunkless, adjective

Word Origin for trunk

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

Word Origin and History for trunk

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

trunk in Medicine


  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.