trunk road / A road

  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    A trunk road is a particular kind of road. It's in the dictionary under "trunk":

    6 [as modifier] relating to the main routes of a transport or communication network: a trunk road.

    In other words it is a major road, or highway, for example one that goes directly from one city to another.


    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    I found this:

    In some countries, an A-road is a major road. A-roads are narrower than motorways but are wider and straighter than B-roads.

    Trunk road: a main road (grande route), especially one that is suitable for heavy vehicles, specially built for travelling long distances. A trunk road is not as wide or as fast as a motorway.

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    As Aistriúchán points out the term "trunk road" has a technical definition according to highway authorities, so a motorway in the UK and Ireland is technically not a trunk road.

    It's chiefly in use in the UK and Ireland, where it has this technical sense, but it may be used elsewhere without such a technical distinction. The Wikipedia article on the term may be helpful.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Transit, a 'trunk road' might be understood differently by different English speakers, so it would be helpful to provide some background or context to the question. In general, the 'trunk' in 'trunk road' is similar to the 'trunk' in 'trunk call' - for communication beyond the very local.


    The context is I was looking for the best equivalent for the French routes nationales. Most dictionaries give trunk roads until I realize "A" roads seemed very similar. Hence my original question.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    As the Wikipedia link referenced by the mole explains, neither of these terms is used in the U.S. for motor roads, but we do/did use 'trunk" for railroads.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    In US English, we'd say, "highway" or "main highway" or "major highway". I've never heard of a "trunk road", and I don't think anyone (in the US) would know what that implied.


    Senior Member
    USA - anglais
    I agree, John. With some exceptions, I think we'd only recognize the term when applied to telephony, as in, "the trunk between the Lehigh and Trafalgar exchanges." Even then, that concept has faded into history.

    I didn't realize the term was in use any longer when applied to roads. There was the Grand Trunk Road traveled by Alexander the Great in India.

    US Highway 66 would seem to qualify as a "trunk" road. It became known as Route 66, and was the subject of an eponymous American TV series in the 1960s.

    Cheers - Bob
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