tra·​gus ˈtrā-gəs How to pronounce tragus (audio)
plural tragi ˈtrā-ˌgī How to pronounce tragus (audio)
: the prominence in front of the external opening of the outer ear

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Lend Us Your Ear for the History of Tragus

The tragus is the tongue-like projection of the outer ear. Its name comes from the Greek word tragos, meaning "he-goat." According to hearsay, the Greek word was influenced by Peloponnesian tragedy. In this style of drama, satyrs were represented as goatlike creatures, and their prominent ears became associated with a feature of our own human ears. Tragos contributed to the English language in another way as well; it is also the word from which tragedy is derived.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Typically, Carillo buffs the Huda Beauty Tantour Contour & Bronzer Cream upwards from the cheekbones to the tragus. Devon Abelman, Allure, 8 Jan. 2020 The tragus is one of those piercings that has never really died down. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, 15 Dec. 2017 Grab a fan brush and using its flat side, apply color from your tragus (the little nub at the center of your ear) to the corner of your mouth, and blend very well. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, 18 Mar. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tragus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


New Latin, from Greek tragos, a part of the ear, literally, goat

First Known Use

1615, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tragus was in 1615


Dictionary Entries Near tragus

Cite this Entry

“Tragus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


tra·​gus ˈtrā-gəs How to pronounce tragus (audio)
plural tragi -ˌgī How to pronounce tragus (audio) -ˌjī How to pronounce tragus (audio)
: a small projection in front of the external opening of the ear
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