tra·​chea | \ ˈtrā-kē-ə How to pronounce trachea (audio) \
plural tracheae\ ˈtrā-​kē-​ˌē How to pronounce trachea (audio) , -​kē-​ˌī \ also tracheas or trachea

Definition of trachea

1 : the main trunk of the system of tubes by which air passes to and from the lungs in vertebrates
2 [New Latin, from Medieval Latin] : vessel sense 3b also : one of its constituent cellular elements
3 [New Latin] : one of the air-conveying tubules forming the respiratory system of most insects and many other arthropods

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Other Words from trachea

tracheal \ ˈtrā-​kē-​əl How to pronounce trachea (audio) \ adjective

Examples of trachea in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Thousands of people in the U.S. develop trachea problems each year from burns, birth defects, tumors and extended intubation. Pam Belluck New York Times, Star Tribune, "In medical milestone, 1st trachea transplant," 8 Apr. 2021 The nine-centimeter transplant replaced all but two centimeters of her trachea. New York Times, "‘There Was Nothing Anybody Could Do for These Patients.’ Now There Is.," 6 Apr. 2021 The vet said Dolly had significant damage to her trachea, consistent with strangulation. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Brookfield woman will spend time in jail after she dragged a dog so badly that it died of its injuries," 29 Mar. 2021 Patients' cough poses serious risk to medical workers Since the start of the pandemic, the most terrifying task in health care has been thought to bethe insertion of breathing tube down the trachea of a critically ill Covid patient. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "'Don't make the same mistakes', Fauci warns as Europe struggles to contain its third coronavirus wave," 15 Mar. 2021 The father couldn't breathe, so a tube was inserted into his trachea, pumping oxygen. USA Today, "‘No one has been trained for this much death.’ In a COVID ICU, hospital workers struggle with trauma and grief.," 12 Mar. 2021 Did the coroner look for evidence only in the trachea and lungs? Star Tribune, "Readers Write: The Derek Chauvin trial, Rondo, rural grocers," 27 Feb. 2021 Early in November, a tube was inserted into her trachea to help her breathe. Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Robert Gehrke: This Utah nurse has fought for COVID-19 patients and is now fighting for her life," 14 Dec. 2020 Hilton slowly inserted a plastic tube through the narrow portal between the vocal cords, down into the trachea. Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, "The Plague Year," 28 Dec. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for trachea

Middle English, from Medieval Latin, from Late Latin trachia, from Greek tracheia (artēria) rough (artery), from feminine of trachys rough

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Time Traveler for trachea

Time Traveler

The first known use of trachea was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trachea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for trachea



English Language Learners Definition of trachea

medical : a long tube in your neck and chest that carries air into and out of your lungs


tra·​chea | \ ˈtrā-kē-ə How to pronounce trachea (audio) \
plural tracheae\ -​kē-​ˌē \

Kids Definition of trachea

1 : a stiff-walled tube of the respiratory system that connects the pharynx with the lungs
2 : a breathing tube of an insect that connects with the outside of the body and carries oxygen directly to the cells


tra·​chea | \ ˈtrā-kē-ə, British also trə-ˈkē-ə \
plural tracheae\ -​kē-​ˌē How to pronounce trachea (audio) \ also tracheas

Medical Definition of trachea

: the main trunk of the system of tubes by which air passes to and from the lungs that is about four inches (10 centimeters) long and somewhat less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter, extends down the front of the neck from the larynx, divides in two to form the bronchi, has walls of fibrous and muscular tissue stiffened by incomplete cartilaginous rings which keep it from collapsing, and is lined with mucous membrane whose epithelium is composed of columnar ciliated mucus-secreting cells

called also windpipe

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More from Merriam-Webster on trachea

Nglish: Translation of trachea for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trachea for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about trachea

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