Open main menu

Wiktionary β

See also: Trunk



Wikipedia has articles on:
Trunk of a Yellow birch tree.
Trunk of an Elephant.


From Middle English trunke, borrowed 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. (heading, biological) Part of a body.
    1. The (usually single) upright part of a tree, between the roots and the branches: the tree trunk.
    2. The torso.
    3. The extended and articulated nose or nasal organ of an elephant.
    4. The proboscis of an insect.
  2. (heading) A container.
    1. A large suitcase, usually requiring two persons to lift and with a hinged lid.
      • 1915, George A. Birmingham, “chapter I”, in Gossamer (Project Gutenberg; EBook #24394), London: Methuen & Co., published 8 January 2013 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 558189256:
        There is an hour or two, after the passengers have embarked, which is disquieting and fussy. Mail bags, so I understand, are being put on board. Stewards, carrying cabin trunks, swarm in the corridors.
    2. 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.
    3. (US, Canada, automotive) The luggage storage compartment of a sedan/saloon style car.
  3. (heading) A channel for flow of some kind.
    1. (US, telecommunications) A circuit between telephone switchboards or other switching equipment.
    2. A chute or conduit, or a watertight shaft connecting two or more decks.
    3. 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.
    4. (archaic) A long tube through which pellets of clay, pas, etc., are driven by the force of the breath.
      • James Howell (c.1594–1666)
        He shot sugarplums at them out of a trunk.
    5. (mining) A flume or sluice in which ores are separated from the slimes in which they are contained.
  4. (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.
  5. The main line or body of anything.
    the trunk of a vein or of an artery, as distinct from the branches
    1. (transport) A main line in a river, canal, railroad, or highway system.
    2. (architecture) The part of a pilaster between the base and capital, corresponding to the shaft of a column.
  6. 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.
  7. Shorts used for swimming (swim trunks).


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


  • (a large suitcase; a chest for holding goods): footlocker

Derived termsEdit


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 Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Further readingEdit


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.