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. 2019

Examples from the Web for trunks

Contemporary Examples of trunks

Historical Examples of trunks

  • "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


pl n

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 British 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
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
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 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 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

trunks in Medicine




The body excluding the head and limbs.
The main stem of a blood vessel or nerve apart from the branches.
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.