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Etymology 1[edit]

From Old Irish púca (goblin, sprite), perhaps from a (nearly) identical Old Irish form, ultimately from Old English pūca (demon). Doublet of puck.


pooka (plural pookas)

  1. A fairy that supposedly appears in animal form, often large.
    The pooka had befriended the kindly old man.
    • 1863, Sheridan Le Fanu, The House by the Churchyard:
      This is certain; Moggy was by no means so great a fool as Betty in respect of hobgoblins, witches, banshees, pookas, and the world of spirits in general. She eat heartily, and slept soundly, and as yet had never seen the devil.
    • 1833 July, “Laurie on Grand Juries”, in The Westminster Review - Volume 19, page 88:
      The Pooka is an animal of which, partly from the darkness of the night, and partly from the darkness that he carries about with him, the precise outline, especially of the head and neck, can never be distinguished.
    • 1944, Mary Chase, Harvey (play):
      P-O-O-K-A. Pooka. From old Celtic mythology, a fairy spirit in animal form, always very large. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one. A benign but mischievous creature. Very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and how are you, Mr. Wilson?

Etymology 2[edit]

Borrowed from Hawaiian puka (hole).


pooka (plural pookas)

  1. A convenient storage location or hiding spot created by the arrangement or form of surrounding objects
Usage notes[edit]

Incorporated from Hawaiian into English by sailors in the US Navy as a name for a place (especially aboard a ship) to store or hide objects, or the action of storing an object in such a place.

See also[edit]