pro·​bos·​cis | \ prə-ˈbä-səs How to pronounce proboscis (audio) , -ˈbä-skəs How to pronounce proboscis (audio) \
plural proboscises also proboscides\ prə-​ˈbä-​sə-​ˌdēz How to pronounce proboscis (audio) \

Definition of proboscis

1a : the trunk of an elephant also : any long flexible snout
b : the human nose especially when prominent
2 : any of various elongated or extensible tubular processes (such as the sucking organ of a butterfly) of the oral region of an invertebrate

Illustration of proboscis

Illustration of proboscis

P proboscis 2

Synonyms for proboscis


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Examples of proboscis in a Sentence

if there were a direct relation between mendacity and the length of one's proboscis, hers would be a mile long
Recent Examples on the Web During the feeding process, the female mosquito uses a mouthpart called the proboscis—which is also used to feed on flowers—to pierce the skin and feed on the blood. Eleesha Lockett, SELF, 8 June 2022 And Peter Dinklage, who starred in that musical’s 2019 Off Broadway production, superbly reprises his role here, giving us a Cyrano who is widely mocked not for an oversized proboscis but rather for a diminutive physique. Los Angeles Times, 24 Feb. 2022 This 1996 Daihatsu with its googly eyes and big spare-tire proboscis is a recent import to the U.S. Elana Scherr, Car and Driver, 17 Feb. 2022 Nienaber walked it over to a plant, and the monarch soon unfurled its proboscis into a flower, drawing nectar. Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, 22 Jan. 2021 The proboscis is a Swiss Army knife appendage of six separate instruments that facilitate blood collection. Leslie Nemo, Scientific American, 8 Jan. 2021 Researchers have interpreted a nearby red figure as an insect—possibly a hawk moth, known to become intoxicated on datura nectar drawn through its long proboscis—perhaps here a symbolic stand-in for the datura-taker. Megan Gannon, National Geographic, 23 Nov. 2020 To initiate feeding, the first pump opens to lower the pressure and draw the blood up into the proboscis. Popular Science, 20 Oct. 2020 The system looks for the female’s distinct proboscis or mouth, antenna and other anatomical clues, flagging it for removal. Jon Emont, WSJ, 6 Sep. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of proboscis

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for proboscis

Latin, from Greek proboskis, from pro- + boskein to feed

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Time Traveler for proboscis

Time Traveler

The first known use of proboscis was in 1601

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Dictionary Entries Near proboscis



proboscis flower

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Last Updated

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Proboscis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for proboscis


pro·​bos·​cis | \ prə-ˈbä-səs How to pronounce proboscis (audio) , -ˈbäs-kəs \

Kids Definition of proboscis

: a long flexible hollow body part (as the trunk of an elephant)


pro·​bos·​cis | \ prə-ˈbäs-əs How to pronounce proboscis (audio) , -kəs How to pronounce proboscis (audio) \
plural proboscises also proboscides\ -​ˈbäs-​ə-​ˌdēz How to pronounce proboscis (audio) \

Medical Definition of proboscis

: any of various elongated or extensible tubular organs or processes especially of the oral region of an invertebrate: as
a : a sucking organ of insects (as houseflies or mosquitoes) that is often also adapted for piercing
b : one of the complex protrusible holdfasts on the scolex of certain tapeworms

More from Merriam-Webster on proboscis

Nglish: Translation of proboscis for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about proboscis


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