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

Examples of cloaca in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Males deposit little packets of sperm called spermatophores along the bottom of vernal pools, and females pick up the spermatophores in their cloaca, a multipurpose opening at the base of the tail that’s used for excretion and reproduction., "Spring rains jumpstart breeding season for spotted salamanders," 24 Mar. 2021 The cloaca was so well preserved that Vinther realized it could be reconstructed using 3-D computer modelling, reports Katherine J. Wu for the New York Times. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, "3-D Reconstruction of Fossil Reveals Secret Sex Life of Dinosaurs," 21 Jan. 2021 The goal is to remove the oil gland and cloaca while also creating a hole to extract the innards. Natalie Krebs, Outdoor Life, "How to Wax-Pluck a Wild Goose for Christmas Dinner," 23 Dec. 2020 The team placed each bird in a small roosting enclosure near the campsite and inserted a tiny wire into their cloaca, an all-purpose hole that birds use to excrete waste, mate, and—in females—lay eggs. Lucy Hicks, Science | AAAS, "To survive frigid nights, hummingbirds cool themselves to record-low temperatures," 8 Sep. 2020 Estimating the height above ground and aperture of the cloaca—the opening through which penguins defecate—was equally simple. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The explosive physics of pooping penguins: they can shoot poo over four feet," 4 July 2020 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

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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Statistics for cloaca

Last Updated

30 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cloaca.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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 cloaca (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 cloaca (audio) \ adjective

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