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

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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 Nienaber walked it over to a plant, and the monarch soon unfurled its proboscis into a flower, drawing nectar. Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, "Scandia teen gardener and environmentalist is the butterfly whisperer," 22 Jan. 2021 The proboscis is a Swiss Army knife appendage of six separate instruments that facilitate blood collection. Leslie Nemo, Scientific American, "Mosquitoes Stab Animals with a Syringelike Proboscis," 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, "400 years ago, visitors to this painted cave took hallucinogens," 23 Nov. 2020 To initiate feeding, the first pump opens to lower the pressure and draw the blood up into the proboscis. Popular Science, "Evolution made mosquitos into stealthy, sensitive vampires," 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, "How to Fight the Deadly Dengue Virus? Make Your Own Mosquitoes.," 6 Sep. 2020 The spines of a cactus, the proboscis of a mosquito, the quills of a porcupine: straight, pointed objects serve a plethora of functions in nature. Scott Hershberger, Scientific American, "Stingers Have Achieved Optimal Pointiness, Physicists Show," 6 July 2020 On Adam’s computer screen, the ship now looked like a robotic housefly, its proboscis probing toward an enormous, crumbly piece of gray bread. Chris Wright, Wired, "The Remarkable Stuff Scientists Get Done as They Work From Home," 8 June 2020 For hundreds of years, virtually everyone had taken for granted that the butterfly proboscis was a drinking straw. Popular Science, "We can soon thank butterfly tongues for better cancer treatments and vaccines," 2 June 2020

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.

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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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Cite this Entry

“Proboscis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of proboscis

biology : the long, thin nose of some animals (such as an elephant)
biology : a long, thin tube that forms part of the mouth of some insects (such as a butterfly)
humorous : a person's nose especially when it is very long or big


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

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