from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A dais, pulpit, or other elevated platform for public speaking.
  • noun The curved, beaklike prow of an ancient Roman ship, especially a war galley.
  • noun The speaker's platform in an ancient Roman forum, which was decorated with the prows of captured enemy ships.
  • noun Biology A beaklike projection, especially.
  • noun An anterior projection of an insect's or an arachnid's mouthparts, of the upper jaw of a cetacean, or of the cephalothorax of a crustacean.
  • noun A beaklike projection of a plant part, as the fruit of a geranium.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The beak or bill of a bird.
  • noun The snout, muzzle, or sometimes the face of an animal, especially when protrusive.
  • noun In anatomy and zoology, any beaked or rostrate part, or part likened to a beak.
  • noun The beak of a ship: an ancient form of ram, consisting of a beam to which were attached heavy pointed irons, fixed to the bows, sometimes just above and sometimes below the water-line, and used for the purpose of sinking other vessels. See cut under rostral.
  • noun plural A platform or elevated place in the Roman forum, whence orations, pleadings, funeral harangues, etc., were delivered: so called because it was adorned with the rostra or beaks of the ships taken in the first naval victory gained by the republic.
  • noun Hence A pulpit or any platform or elevated spot from which a speaker addresses his audience. See cut under pulpit.
  • noun In botany, an elongated receptacle with the styles adhering: also applied generally to any rigid process of remarkable length, or to any additional process at the end of any of the parts of a plant.
  • noun A trestle used in supporting platforms in a theater.
  • noun In an ancient lamp, the beak or projection in which the wick lies.
  • noun In distilling, that part of the still which connects the head with the worm and forms a passage for vapor from the head to the worm; the beak.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The beak or head of a ship.
  • noun (Rom. Antiq.) The Beaks; the stage or platform in the forum where orations, pleadings, funeral harangues, etc., were delivered; -- so called because after the Latin war, it was adorned with the beaks of captured vessels; later, applied also to other platforms erected in Rome for the use of public orators.
  • noun Hence, a stage for public speaking; the pulpit or platform occupied by an orator or public speaker.
  • noun Any beaklike prolongation, esp. of the head of an animal, as the beak of birds.
  • noun The beak, or sucking mouth parts, of Hemiptera.
  • noun The snout of a gastropod mollusk. See Illust. of Littorina.
  • noun The anterior, often spinelike, prolongation of the carapace of a crustacean, as in the lobster and the prawn.
  • noun (Bot.) Same as Rostellum.
  • noun (Old Chem.) The pipe to convey the distilling liquor into its receiver in the common alembic.
  • noun (Surg.), obsolete A pair of forceps of various kinds, having a beaklike form.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A dais, pulpit, or similar platform for a speaker, conductor or other performer.
  • noun A platform for a film or television camera.
  • noun The projecting prow of a rowed warship, such as a trireme.
  • noun zoology The beak shaped projection on the head of insects such as weevils.
  • noun The snout of a dolphin

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun beaklike projection of the anterior part of the head of certain insects such as e.g. weevils
  • noun a platform raised above the surrounding level to give prominence to the person on it


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin rōstrum, beak; see rēd- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin rōstrum, from rōdō ("gnaw"). The pulpit sense is a back-formation from the name of the Roman Rōstra, the platforms in the Forum where politicians made speeches. The Rōstra were decorated with (and named for) the beaks (prows) of ships from naval victories.


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  • I am cognisant of the traditional excellence of the introductions of speakers by Empire Club Presidents-an excellence that presumably each speaker from this renowned rostrum is challenged to match!

    Towards Commonwealth Unity through the Sims Travelling Professorship 1974

  • Listening to him speak from the rostrum is often like listening to a venerable bishop preaching the revealed truth.

    The Nobel Peace Prize 1937 - Presentation Speech 1937

  • a sudden on this rostrum is a somewhat uncomfortable and trying experience.

    Joseph Brodsky - Nobel Lecture 1987

  • In basic terms, the rostrum is shaped like a very long scalene triangle: it’s deepest at the level of the nasoantorbital fenestra, but gradually tapers rostrally to a point.

    Archive 2006-04-01 Darren Naish 2006

  • The Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) is found in the Yangtze River and has a cone-shaped snout rather than the long, paddle-like snout (known as a rostrum) of the North American paddlefish.

    Archive 2007-01-01 2007

  • She was a slave and a mother and her rostrum was the auction block.

    Golden State 2005

  • She was a slave and a mother and her rostrum was the auction block.

    Golden State 2005

  • Things had so gone with him that the rostrum was his own, and a House crammed to overflowing was there to listen to him.

    Phineas Finn 2004

  • The gentleman in the rostrum is a voluble personage, with a rapidly roving eye, of preternatural quickness in picking up "bids."

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 100, February 21, 1891 Various

  • Under the rostrum was the vestry, and through a trap door in the rostrum floor the preacher climbed from the vestry to his place.

    The Hymns of Wesley and Watts: Five Papers 1942


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