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Etymology unknown, apparently from Scots. First attested in 1602 as dork, in the later 17th century as durk. The spelling dirk is due to Johnson's Dictionary of 1755.

Early quotations as well as Johnson 1755 suggest that the word is of Scottish Gaelic origin, but no such Gaelic word is known. The Gaelic name for the weapon is biodag. Gaelic duirc is merely an 18th-century adoption of the English word.

A possible derivation is from the Scandinavian personal name Dirk (short for Diederik), which is used of lock-picking tools (but not of knives or daggers). Another possibility is that dork originates as a sailor's or soldier's corruption of dolk, the Dutch and Scandinavian form of German Dolch ‎(dagger).

The American slang term may be a variant of dick ‎(penis).



dirk ‎(plural dirks)

  1. A long Scottish dagger with a straight blade.
    • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
      In half a minute he had reached the port scuppers, and picked, out of a coil of rope, a long knife, or rather a short dirk, discolored to the hilt with blood.
  2. (US, Midwest, dated, slang) A penis; dork.
    • May 1964, Lawrence Poston, "Some Problems in the Study of Campus Slang", American Speech volume 39, issue 2
      The word dick itself serves as model for two variants which are probably Midwestern, dirk and dork, also meaning "penis"...
  3. (US, Midwest, dated, slang) A socially unacceptable person; an oddball.
    • May 1964, Lawrence Poston, "Some Problems in the Study of Campus Slang", American Speech volume 39, issue 2
      ...on at least one Midwestern campus a dirk may be an "oddball" student, while a prick (more common) is of course an offensive one.


dirk ‎(third-person singular simple present dirks, present participle dirking, simple past and past participle dirked)

  1. To stab with a dirk.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir Walter Scott to this entry?)
  2. (obsolete) To darken.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)


Alternative forms[edit]


dirk (plural dirks)

  1. dirk


dirk ‎(third-person singular present dirks, present participle dirkin, past dirkt, past participle dirkt)

  1. dirk