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A rosewood rostrum (sense 1) used in the 1970s by the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, to deliver speeches, which was displayed at the National Museum of Singapore.

Borrowed from Latin rōstrum (beak, snout), from rōd(ō) (gnaw) + -trum, from Proto-Indo-European *reh₁d- + *-trom. The pulpit sense is a back-formation from the name of the Roman Rōstra, the platforms in the Forum where politicians made speeches. The Rōstra were decorated with (and named for) the beaks (prows) of ships from naval victories.



rostrum (plural rostra or rostrums)

  1. A dais, pulpit, or similar platform for a speaker, conductor, or other performer.
    Synonyms: dais, pulpit
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, chapter 27, in Babbitt:
      He saw a crowd listening to a man who was talking from the rostrum of a kitchen-chair.
  2. A platform for a film or television camera.
  3. The projecting prow of a rowed warship, such as a trireme.
  4. (zoology) The beak.
  5. (zoology) The beak-shaped projection on the head of insects such as weevils.
  6. (zoology) The snout of a dolphin.
  7. (anatomy) The oral or nasal region of a human used for anatomical location (i.e. rostral)

Derived terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]



From rōd(ō) (to gnaw) +‎ -trum, from Proto-Indo-European *reh₁d- + *-trom. Originally a bird's beak or animal's snout, but later extended to objects with a similar shape.



rōstrum n (genitive rōstrī); second declension

  1. bill or beak of a bird
    • c. 600 CE – 625 CE, Isidorus Hispalensis, Etymologiae 12.7.33:
      Ībis avis Nīlī flūminis, quae sēmetipsam purgat, rōstrō in ānum aquam fundēns. Haec serpentium ōva vēscitur, grātissimam ex eīs ēscam nīdīs suīs dēportāns.
      The ibis is a bird of the river Nile, which purges itself by pouring water into its anus with its beak. It devours the eggs of snakes, carrying from them to its nests the most welcome food.
  2. snout or muzzle of an animal
    • 9 CE, Ovid, Ibis 143–152:
      Sīve ego, quod nōlim, longīs cōnsūmpus ab annīs,
          sīve manū factā morte solūtus erō,
      sīve per inmēnsās iactābor naufragus undās,
          nostraque longinquus viscera piscis edet,
      sīve peregrīnae carpent mea membra volucrēs,
          sīve meō tinguent sanguine rōstra lupī,
      sīve aliquis dignātus erit suppōnere terrae
          et dare plēbēiō corpus ināne rogō,
      quicquid erō, Stygiīs ērumpere nītar ab ōrīs,
          et tendam gelidās ultor in ōra manūs.
      Whether I shall be consumed by the long years, which I do not want,
          whether I shall be set free by a death caused by a hand,
      whether I shall be thrown shipwrecked about the immense waves
          and a fish from far away lands my guts will eat,
      whether wandering birds my limbs should rip,
          whether wolves will stain their snouts with my blood,
      whether someone will be dignified to lay on the ground
          and give to a plebeian pyre my useless body,
      whatever I shall be, I shall strive to break from the banks of the Styx
          and I'll hold my icy hands in your face as an avenger.
  3. (nautical) prow of a ship
  4. a stage or platform for speaking in the forum


Second-declension noun (neuter).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative rōstrum rōstra
Genitive rōstrī rōstrōrum
Dative rōstrō rōstrīs
Accusative rōstrum rōstra
Ablative rōstrō rōstrīs
Vocative rōstrum rōstra

Derived terms[edit]


  • Aromanian: arostu
  • Catalan: rostre
  • English: rostrum
  • French: rostre
  • Friulian: rostri
  • Galician: rostro


  • rostrum in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • rostrum in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • rostrum in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 1883–1887)
  • rostrum in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • Carl Meißner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to mount the rostra: in contionem (in rostra) escendere (only of Romans)
    • to charge, ram a boat: navem rostro percutere
  • rostrum in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • rostrum in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin