ros·​trum ˈrä-strəm How to pronounce rostrum (audio)
ˈrȯ- How to pronounce rostrum (audio)
plural rostra ˈrä-strə How to pronounce rostrum (audio)
 also  ˈrȯ-
or rostrums
[Latin Rostra, plural, a platform for speakers in the Roman Forum decorated with the beaks of captured ships, from plural of rostrum]
: an ancient Roman platform for public orators
: a stage for public speaking
: a raised platform on a stage
: the curved end of a ship's prow
especially : the beak of a war galley
: a bodily part or process suggesting a bird's bill: such as
: the beak, snout, or proboscis of any of various insects or arachnids
: the often spinelike anterior median prolongation of the carapace of a crustacean (such as a crayfish or lobster)

Examples of rostrum in a Sentence

stood on a rostrum to address the huge crowd
Recent Examples on the Web Not only were the crayfish’s colors unique, but Williams said its rostrum — an extension of the crayfish’s shell — was shorter than usual. Kyle Melnick, Washington Post, 5 Oct. 2023 Russia gets its chance to address the General Assembly on Saturday when Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected on the rostrum. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 19 Sep. 2023 Russia gets its chance to address the General Assembly on Saturday, when Foreign Minister Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected on the rostrum. Jennifer Peltz and Derek Gatopoulos,, 19 Sep. 2023 Six vice presidents, four deputy prime ministers and over 30 ministers of state and chiefs of delegations will also stand at the rostrum to deliver remarks for their nations. Richard Roth, CNN, 18 Sep. 2023 This eerie, boneless creature looks like a shark with a chainsaw for a nose, called a rostrum. Carlyn Kranking, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 July 2023 The deputy speaker and speaker pro tempore run House sessions from the rostrum when the speaker is absent. Globe Staff,, 31 Jan. 2023 Seen through the long lens of history, then, the insurgency that brought Vaughn to the convention rostrum amounts to a missing link in America’s civil rights narrative. Samuel G. Freedman, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 July 2023 It wasn’t delivered at the august rostrum where other presidents, prime ministers and monarchs speak — but instead by video from a nation at war after Zelenskyy was granted special permission to not come in person. Jennifer Peltz, Chicago Tribune, 21 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rostrum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, beak, ship's beak, from rodere to gnaw — more at rodent

First Known Use

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of rostrum was in 1542

Dictionary Entries Near rostrum

Cite this Entry

“Rostrum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ros·​trum ˈräs-trəm How to pronounce rostrum (audio)
plural rostra
or rostrums
: a stage or platform from which to give a speech
: a bodily part (as a snout) that resembles a bird's beak

from Latin Rostra "the speaker's platform in the Forum," from rostra, plural of rostrum "ship's beak"

Word Origin
Rostrum, a "raised platform for speakers," goes back to the collecting of war souvenirs by the ancient Romans. Warships in those days had pointed beams, called "beaks," sticking out from the bows. They were used to ram and sink enemy ships. To celebrate a great naval victory, the Romans gathered the beaks of the losers' ships. They hung them in back of the speaker's platform in the Forum in Rome. The Latin word for the ship's beak was rostrum. The plural, rostra, soon came to be used for the speaker's platform. In time rostra came to be used for any speaker's platform, not just one decorated with the beaks of ships. In the 18th century English began using the Latin singular form rostrum to mean "a speaker's platform."

Medical Definition


ˈräs-trəm also ˈrȯs-
plural rostrums or rostra -trə How to pronounce rostrum (audio)
: a bodily part or process suggesting a bird's bill: as
: the reflected anterior portion of the corpus callosum below the genu
: the interior median spine of the body of the basisphenoid bone articulating with the vomer

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