From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Origin uncertain. Perhaps from Middle English pranken (to adorn, arrange one's attire), probably from Middle Dutch pronken, proncken (to flaunt, make a show, arrange one's attire), related to German prangen (to make a show, be resplendent), Dutch prangen (to squeeze, press), Danish pragt (pomp, splendor), all from Proto-Germanic *pranganą, *prangijaną, *prag- (to press, squeeze, thring), from Proto-Indo-European *brAngh- (to press, squeeze). Or, perhaps ultimately related to Proto-Germanic *brahtaz, similar to Dutch pracht (splendor), Swedish prakt (glory, pomp) (loaned from Low German).[1]

Cognate with Middle Low German prunken (to flaunt), German prunken (to flaunt), Danish prunke (to make a show, prank). Sense of "mischievous act" from earlier verbal sense of "to be crafty or subtle, set in order, adjust". See also prink, prance, prong.


  • enPR: prăngk, IPA(key): /pɹæŋk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æŋk


prank (plural pranks)

  1. A practical joke or mischievous trick.
    play a prank
    pull a prank on someone
    He pulled a gruesome prank on his sister.
  2. (obsolete) An evil deed; a malicious trick, an act of cruel deception.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Simples purging melancholy downeward”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 2, section 4, member 2, subsection 2, page 311:
      Lilius Geraldus ſaith,that Hercules after all his mad prankes vpon his wife and children, was perfectly cured by a purge of Hellebor,which an Anticyrian adminiſtred vnto him.


Derived terms[edit]



prank (third-person singular simple present pranks, present participle pranking, simple past pranked, past participle pranked or (archaic) prankt)

  1. (transitive) To perform a practical joke on; to trick.
    • 2007 May 13, Karen Crouse, “Still Invitation Only, but Jets Widen Door for Camp”, in New York Times[1]:
      “If someone’s pranking me,” Rowlands remembered thinking, “they’re going to great lengths to make it work.”
  2. (transitive, slang) To call someone's phone and promptly hang up
    Hey man, prank me when you wanna get picked up.
    I don't have your number in my phone; can you prank me?
  3. (transitive, archaic) To adorn in a showy manner; to dress or equip ostentatiously.
  4. (intransitive) To make an ostentatious show.
    • 1867, Matthew Arnold, “Obermann Once More”, in New Poems:
      White houses prank where once were huts.


(call and promptly hang up): missed call, missed-call




  1. (obsolete) Full of gambols or tricks.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for “prank”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.)


  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge (1883), “prangen”, in , John Francis Davis, transl., Etymological Dictionary of the German Language, published 1891




  1. prank
    • 2016, Klaus Rifbjerg, Falsk forår, Gyldendal A/S, →ISBN:
      Hvad hun tillod sig nu var altså en prank, en joke, noget, der havde med overskud at gøre og slet ikke kunne bringes under de rubrikker, hun lå og forestillede sig.
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
    • 2014, Nick Clausen, Kanel, klejner og julekaos, Tellerup A/S, →ISBN:
      Bare fordi det er min tur til at finde på en prank gider du ikke gøre dig umage .
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
    • 2016, Lasse Henriksen, Pil Ingerslev, Benny 1's normale guide til det paranormale, Art People, →ISBN:
      Pranken fik sit eget liv, ...
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)