clo·​a·​ca | \ klō-ˈā-kə How to pronounce cloaca (audio) \
plural cloacae\ klō-​ˈā-​ˌkē How to pronounce cloacae (audio) , -​ˌsē \

Definition of cloaca

2a [New Latin, from Latin] : the common chamber into which the intestinal and urogenital tracts discharge especially in monotreme mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and elasmobranch fishes also : a comparable chamber of an invertebrate
b : the enlarged terminal part of the posterior embryonic digestive tract of a mammal that gives rise to the rectum, upper anal canal, and urogenital sinus

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Other Words from cloaca

cloacal \ klō-​ˈā-​kəl How to pronounce cloacal (audio) \ adjective

Examples of cloaca in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But some turtles, like the Australian white-throated snapping turtle, can absorb oxygen from water through their cloaca – a backside tube that functions as a waste-excreting, breeding and egg-laying zone. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Fact-checking Olaf's 'Frozen 2' science: Do turtles really breathe from their butts?," 27 Nov. 2019 His lower appendage suggests a phallic cloaca rummaging around inside a toy version of the wide-open Capitol building. Sarah Boxer, The Atlantic, "Why Is Donald Trump So Hard to Caricature?," 10 Mar. 2018 The male’s penis emerges from his cloaca, going under the female’s shell and into hers. Liz Langley, National Geographic, "How do Animals Have Sex Underwater?," 27 May 2017 Male and female birds typically have a cloaca, or vent, which is an opening to their reproductive, digestive, and urinary systems. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "Watch the Awkward Balancing Act of Seagull Mating," 1 June 2017 The hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos) of the eastern U.S. is famous for dangling its tongue limply from its mouth and leaking fluid out of its cloaca, its all-purpose hole. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "Watch the Bizarre Moment a Snake Plays Dead," 14 Dec. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cloaca.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cloaca

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cloaca

Latin; akin to Greek klyzein to wash — more at clyster

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Time Traveler for cloaca

Time Traveler

The first known use of cloaca was circa 1656

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Cite this Entry

“Cloaca.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for cloaca


clo·​aca | \ klō-ˈā-kə How to pronounce cloaca (audio) \
plural cloacae\ -​ˌkē, -​ˌsē How to pronounce cloacae (audio) \

Medical Definition of cloaca

1a : the common chamber into which the intestinal, urinary, and generative canals discharge especially in monotreme mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and elasmobranch fishes
b : the terminal part of the embryonic hindgut of a mammal before it divides into rectum, bladder, and genital precursors
2 : a passage in a bone leading to a cavity containing a sequestrum

Other Words from cloaca

cloacal \ -​ˈā-​kəl How to pronounce cloacal (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on cloaca

Spanish Central: Translation of cloaca Encyclopedia article about cloaca

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