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The long nose of an elephant is called a trunk.

I feel that I've read things like this in my childhood:

  • The men blindly felt for the elephant. Someone touched its trunks and said, "So long and hard and thick. It seems to be a tree!"

  • Bambo kicked that scrawny little thing out of his way with his trunks.

  • Rani, the large Indian elephant Mr. Fox kept as pet, stomped its trunks in hunger.

which imply an elephant's legs are also referred to as trunks. I also thought tree trunks were just like an elephant's legs, so they're called trunks too. However, no dictionary says so. See trunk.

I don't know why but I just can't accept this. I clearly remember I did read things like that in children's stories.

Can "trunks of an elephant" mean both its legs and its long nose?

  • 4
    No. You misremembered. An individual elephant has a single trunk. – Martin Smith Jul 15 '17 at 20:35
  • Maybe you were thinking of tusks? – Martin Smith Jul 15 '17 at 20:59
  • 2
    You are thinking of the teaching story (see Wikipedia) in which a group of blind men in a room with an elephant draw erroneous conclusions about what is in the room based upon what they can feel. One, feeling the elephant's leg, concludes that it is the trunk of a tree. (If you were told this story as a child, your parents are to be commended.) – P. E. Dant Jul 15 '17 at 21:16
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An elephant is considered to have a single

trunk

which is often considered to be its nose

The descriptor also has an anatomical meaning

trunk - a person's or animal's body apart from the limbs and head.

So, anatomically an elephant might be thought to have two trunks.

As a play on words, an elephant might travel with a luggage "trunk"


(source: gawkerassets.com)

but none of these would have the meaning of trunk referring to legs or limbs

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