tar·​sus | \ ˈtär-səs How to pronounce tarsus (audio) \
plural tarsi\ ˈtär-​ˌsī How to pronounce tarsus (audio) , -​ˌsē \

Definition of tarsus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the part of the foot of a vertebrate between the metatarsus and the leg also : the small bones that support this part of the foot and include bones of the ankle, heel, and arch
2 : the tarsal plate of the eyelid
3 : the distal part of the limb of an arthropod


geographical name
Tar·​sus | \ ˈtär-səs How to pronounce Tarsus (audio) \

Definition of Tarsus (Entry 2 of 2)

city in southern Turkey near the Cilician Gates population 187,508

Note: Tarsus was the capital of ancient Cilicia.

Examples of tarsus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Meanwhile, wing length showed a mean increase of 1.3%, with the species showing the fastest declines in tarsus length also showing the most rapid gains in wing length. Katie Hunt, CNN, 4 Dec. 2019 The scientists measured the birds’ overall body size, body mass, wingspan and the length of a lower leg bone known as the tarsus, which shrank by 2.4 percent across species. NBC News, 5 Dec. 2019 In particular, the length of the tarsus or lower leg bone, shrank by 2.4%. Katie Hunt, CNN, 4 Dec. 2019

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


circa 1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tarsus


New Latin, from Greek tarsos wickerwork mat, flat of the foot, ankle, edge of the eyelid; akin to Greek tersesthai to become dry — more at thirst

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The first known use of tarsus was circa 1615

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Cite this Entry

“Tarsus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tarsus. Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for tarsus



English Language Learners Definition of tarsus

: the ankle or one of the seven small bones in the ankle


tar·​sus | \ ˈtär-səs How to pronounce tarsus (audio) \
plural tarsi\ -​ˌsī How to pronounce tarsus (audio) , -​ˌsē How to pronounce tarsus (audio) \

Medical Definition of tarsus

1 : the part of the foot of a vertebrate between the metatarsus and the leg also : the small bones supporting this part of the limb that include the three cuneiform bones and the cuboid in a distal row and the navicular, calcaneus, and talus in a proximal row

More from Merriam-Webster on tarsus

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tarsus


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