Trunk - Encyclopedia




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TRUNK (Fr. tronc, Lat. truncus, cut off, maimed), properly the main stem of a tree from which the branches spring, especially the stem when stripped of the branches; hence, in a transferred sense, the main part of a human or animal body without the head, arms or legs. It is from this last sense that the term "trunk-hose" is derived. These were part of the typical male costume of the 16th century, consisting of a pair of large puffed and slashed over-hose, reaching from the waist to the middle of the thigh, the legs clad in the long hose being thrust through them; the upper part of the body was covered by the jerkin or jacket reaching to the thigh (see Costume). The word "trunk" as applied to the elongated proboscis of the elephant is due to a mistaken confusion of French trompe, trump, with "trunk" meaning the hollow stem of a tree. A somewhat obscure meaning of French tronc, i.e. an alms-box, has given rise to the general use of "trunk" for a form of travellers' luggage.

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