spiracle

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spiracle

Time Traveler for spiracle

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for spiracle

Cite this Entry

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spiracle

spiracle

noun
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

Comments on spiracle

What made you want to look up spiracle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!