spi·​ra·​cle | \ ˈspir-i-kəl How to pronounce spiracle (audio) , ˈspī-ri- \

Definition of spiracle

1 : a breathing hole : vent
2 : a breathing orifice: such as
b : an external tracheal aperture of a terrestrial arthropod that in an insect is usually one of a series of small apertures located along each side of the thorax and abdomen — see insect illustration

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Other Words from spiracle

spiracular \ spə-​ˈra-​kyə-​lər How to pronounce spiracular (audio) , spī-​ \ adjective

Examples of spiracle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some modern-day fishes that breathe air have similarly large spiracles. John A. Long, Scientific American, "How a 380-Million-Year-Old Fish Gave Us Fingers," 20 May 2020 The skull of Elpistostege contains a clue: at the back of the head is a pair of large holes called spiracles. John A. Long, Scientific American, "How a 380-Million-Year-Old Fish Gave Us Fingers," 20 May 2020 Sturgeon have holes in their sides called spiracles, which help them breathe along with their gills. National Geographic, "Lake sturgeon," 25 Feb. 2020 Also, an up-close look reveals intake vents (spiracles) behind the eyes for circulating water through the gills and out on the saw’s underside for exhaling. David A. Brown, Field & Stream, "The Fight to Save the Sawfish," 13 Dec. 2019 The photographs showed children touching the animal, unintentionally covering the spiracle. Robert Newhouse, Teen Vogue, "Beachgoers in Spain Killed a Baby Dolphin," 17 Aug. 2017 When disturbed, say by a predator, these North American insects compress their bodies and squeeze air out of holes in the sides of their bodies, called spiracles. National Geographic, "Whistling Caterpillars And 5 More Surprisingly Musical Species," 26 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spiracle.' 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 spiracle

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spiracle

Middle English, from Latin spiraculum, from spirare to breathe

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Time Traveler for spiracle

Time Traveler

The first known use of spiracle was in the 15th century

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Statistics for spiracle

Cite this Entry

“Spiracle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spiracle. Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for spiracle


spi·​ra·​cle | \ ˈspir-ə-kəl How to pronounce spiracle (audio) \

Kids Definition of spiracle

: an opening on the body (as of an insect) used for breathing

More from Merriam-Webster on spiracle

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spiracle

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