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From Middle English trunke, from Old French tronc (alms box, tree trunk, headless body), from Latin truncus (a stock, lopped tree trunk), from truncus (cut off, maimed, mutilated). For the verb, compare French tronquer, and see truncate.



trunk (plural trunks)

  1. The (usually single) upright part of a tree, between the roots and the branches: the tree trunk.
  2. A large suitcase, usually requiring two persons to lift and with a hinged lid.
  3. A box or chest usually covered with leather, metal, or cloth, or sometimes made of leather, hide, or metal, for holding or transporting clothes or other goods.
    • Shakespeare
      locked up in chests and trunks
  4. The torso.
  5. The extended and articulated nose or nasal organ of an elephant.
  6. The proboscis of an insect.
  7. (architecture) The part of a pilaster between the base and capital, corresponding to the shaft of a column.
  8. (US, Canada, automotive) The luggage storage compartment of a sedan/saloon style car.
  9. (US, telecommunications) A circuit between telephone switchboards or other switching equipment.
  10. a chute or conduit, or a watertight shaft connecting two or more decks.
  11. A long, large box, pipe, or conductor, made of plank or metal plates, for various uses, as for conveying air to a mine or to a furnace, water to a mill, grain to an elevator, etc.
  12. (software engineering, jargon) in software projects under source control: the most current source tree, from which the latest unstable builds (so-called "trunk builds") are compiled.
  13. (transport) A main line in a river, canal, railroad, or highway system.
  14. The main line or body of anything.
    the trunk of a vein or of an artery, as distinct from the branches
  15. (archaic) A long tube through which pellets of clay, pas, etc., are driven by the force of the breath.
    • Howell
      He shot sugarplums at them out of a trunk.
  16. (mining) A flume or sluice in which ores are separated from the slimes in which they are contained.
  17. A large pipe forming the piston rod of a steam engine, of sufficient diameter to allow one end of the connecting rod to be attached to the crank, and the other end to pass within the pipe directly to the piston, thus making the engine more compact.


  • (luggage storage compartment of a sedan/saloon style car): boot (UK, Aus)
  • (upright part of a tree): tree trunk
  • (nose of an elephant): proboscis

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

External links[edit]


trunk (third-person singular simple present trunks, present participle trunking, simple past and past participle trunked)

  1. (obsolete) To lop off; to curtail; to truncate.
    • Spenser
      Out of the trunked stock.
  2. (mining) To extract (ores) from the slimes in which they are contained, by means of a trunk.