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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cloaca \Clo"a"ca\, n.; pl. Cloac[ae]. [L.]

  1. A sewer; as, the Cloaca Maxima of Rome.

  2. A privy.

  3. (Anat.) The common chamber into which the intestinal, urinary, and generative canals discharge in birds, reptiles, amphibians, and many fishes.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1650s, euphemism for "underground sewer," from Latin cloaca "public sewer, drain," from cluere "to cleanse," from PIE root *kleue- "to wash, clean" (cognates: Greek klyzein "to dash over, wash off, rinse out," klysma "liquid used in a washing;" Lithuanian šluoju "to sweep;" Old English hlutor, Gothic hlutrs, Old High German hlutar, German lauter "pure, clear"). Use in biology, in reference to eliminatory systems of lower animals, is from 1834. Related: Cloacal (1650s); cloacinal (1857).


n. 1 A sewer. 2 A privy. 3 (context anatomy English) The common duct in fish, reptiles, birds and some primitive mammals that serves as the anus as well as the genital opening.

  1. n. a waste pipe that carries away sewage or surface water [syn: sewer, sewerage]

  2. [also: cloacae (pl)]


In animal anatomy, a cloaca (plural cloacae ) is the posterior orifice that serves as the only opening for the digestive, reproductive, and urinary tracts (if present) of certain animals, opening at the vent. All amphibians, birds, reptiles, and a few mammals ( monotremes, tenrecs, golden moles, and marsupial moles) have this orifice, from which they excrete both urine and feces; this is in contrast to most placental mammals, which have two or three separate orifices for evacuation. Excretory systems with analogous purpose in certain invertebrates are also sometimes referred to as cloacae.

The cloacal region is also often associated with a secretory organ, the cloacal gland, which has been implicated in the scent-marking behavior of some reptiles, amphibians, and monotremes.

Cloaca (disambiguation)

Cloaca is an anatomical feature of some animals. It may also refer to:

  • Cloaca (embryology), a structure in mammalian development
  • Cloaca (genus), a synonym for Enterobacter, a bacterial genus
  • Persistent cloaca, a congenital disorder in humans
In buildings and structures
  • Cloaca (Capri), ancient sewage system
  • Cloaca Maxima, part of the sewage system in ancient Rome
In arts and entertainment
  • Cloaca (art), an artwork by Wim Delvoye
  • Cloaca (film), a 2003 Dutch film directed by Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen
  • Cloaca Maxima (album), by Finnish rock group CMX
Cloaca (film)

Cloaca is a 2003 Dutch film, directed by Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen. It is a film adaptation of the 2002 theatre play Cloaca written by Maria Goos, who wrote the scenario for the film as well. The leading roles celebrate men in their 40s who were formerly student friends but since then have let their relationship go stale. They are played by: Goos's husband Peter Blok (Tom), Pierre Bokma (Pieter), Gijs Scholten van Aschat (Joep), and Jaap Spijkers (Maarten). Female roles were played by Caro Lenssen (Laura), Elsie de Brauw (Conny), and Marleen Stolz (Russian prostitute). Eric Schneider acted in a supporting role as Brest, Pieter's boss's boss.

Blok, Bokma, Goos, Scholten van Aschat, and Van de Sande Bakhuyzen know each other from the Toneelacademie Maastricht.

The film was conceived as a made-for-TV film (it was co-financed by the AVRO) but later got a cinema release. It won the public prize for Dutch film at a festival in 2003, and was released on DVD in 2005.

Cloaca (embryology)

The cloaca is a structure in the development of the urinary and reproductive organs.

The hind-gut is at first prolonged backward into the body-stalk as the tube of the allantois; but, with the growth and flexure of the tail-end of the embryo, the body-stalk, with its contained allantoic tube, is carried forward to the ventral aspect of the body, and consequently a bend is formed at the junction of the hind-gut and allantois.

This bend becomes dilated into a pouch, which constitutes the endodermal cloaca; into its dorsal part the hind-gut opens, and from its ventral part the allantois passes forward.

At a later stage the Wolffian duct and Müllerian duct open into its ventral portion.

The cloaca is, for a time, shut off from the anterior by a membrane, the cloacal membrane, formed by the apposition of the ectoderm and endoderm, and reaching, at first, as far forward as the future umbilicus.

Behind the umbilicus, however, the mesoderm subsequently extends to form the lower part of the abdominal wall and pubic symphysis.

By the growth of the surrounding tissues the cloacal membrane comes to lie at the bottom of a depression, which is lined by ectoderm and named the ectodermal cloaca.

Cloaca (Capri)

The Cloaca is an archaeological site on the island of Capri, Italy. It was part of a sewage system built in Roman times. The end of the sewer is visible west of the Marina Grande. It seems to have drained a considerable part of the northern side of the island, as evidenced by many smaller drains which are believed to have led into it. The fall of the sewer has been greatly changed. Instead of having a gentle gradient from south to north, it dips steeply in the reverse direction, north to south, at an angle of 25°. This reversal of incline has occasionally been cited as evidence for the alteration of the land-level of Capri since the Roman period.

Usage examples of "cloaca".

Snow had never been near it before, the team talked about the Cloaca often enough back at the base.

Of all the foul places to dive in New York City, the Cloaca was the worst: worse than the Arthur Kill, Hell Gate, even the Gowanus Canal.

They moved out of the Cloaca, through the Spuyten Dyvil, and into the fresh air of the Hudson.

Miss Kistemaeckers noticed that the cloaca of all three animals was very sore, and she writes that fertilisation of the ova of Andrias Scheuchzeri seems to take place not by copulation, nor even spawning, but by what she called the sexual milieu.

If that does not happen to please you, you are welcome to stick your head even farther up your cloaca than it is already.

Reign of Tarquinius Priscus 16 His early history 16 His removal to Rome 16 Becomes king 16 His wars 16 The Cloacae 16 Circus Maximus 17 Increase of the Senate 17 Increase of the Equites 17 Attus Navius 17 Increase of the Vestal Virgins 17 Early history of Servius Tullius 17 Death of Tarquinius Priscus 18 578-534.

The great cloacae, or sewers, by which he drained the lower parts of the city, still remain, after so many ages, with not a stone displaced.

After working an hour I began to speculate on the distance one had to go before the cloaca was reached, the chances we had of missing it altogether.

Oh, holiness quintessentialised,          Holiness whole, the wholesome wholemeal of,          Holiness as meat and drink and air, in the          Chaste thrusts of marital love holiness, and          Sanctitas sanctitas even snaking up from          Cloacae and sewers, sanctitas the effluvium          From His Holiness's arsehole.

El muchachuelo de la cloaca y del cascotazo ascendió a hombre de frontera.

The black yeast of demon vitality cooks unsleeping in its planetary cloaca.

Too bad, he thought, the messenger had to throw it into the Humboldt Kill, aka Cloaca Maxima, named after the great central sewer of ancient Rome.

State-owned slaves periodically clean the streets and the Cloaca Maxima is still in use in Rome even in our time.

He even hired a boat and took her into the immense Cloaca Maxima which drained the city's swampy valleys.

The Romans, from the time of the republic, knew everything about their Cloaca Maxima, yet fifteen hundred years later, in Paris, people were ignorant of what went on beneath their feet.