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See also: -punk and Punk



Etymology 1[edit]

Of uncertain origin. Possibly from the application of the sense punk (rotten wood dust used as tinder) (see below) to anything worthless (that sense being attested since 1869), and then to any undesirable person (since 1908). The word is alternatively sometimes suggested to derive from Spanish pu(n)to (prostitute); this is supported by the sense development (it originally meant "prostitute", then "bottom, catamite"), but is phonologically unstraightforward.[1]


punk (countable and uncountable, plural punks)

  1. (obsolete, countable) A prostitute; courtezan.
  2. (countable, uncommon) The bottom in a male-male sexual relationship, especially in prison. [since the 19th century]
    Because he was so weak, Vinny soon became Tony's punk.
    • 1946, Mezz Mezzrow & Bernard Wolfe, Really the Blues, Payback Press 1999, p. 15:
      A punk, if you want it in plain English, is a boy with smooth skin who takes the place of a woman in a jailbird's love life.
  3. (countable) A juvenile delinquent; a young, petty criminal or trouble-maker; a hoodlum; a hooligan.
  4. (countable) Any worthless person.
    • 1971, Harry Julian Fink, R.M. Fink, Dean Riesner, Dirty Harry
      I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? / Well, do ya, punk?
  5. (uncountable) A social and musical movement rooted in rebelling against the established order.
  6. (uncountable) The music of the punk movement, known for short songs with electric guitars, strong drums, and a direct, unproduced approach.
  7. (countable, sometimes as informal plural punx) A person who belongs to that movement and/or listens to that music, a punk rocker.
Usage notes[edit]

The most common use of the term is in the term punk rock (for a certain social and musical movement). In the UK, this is the only common usage.



punk (comparative punker, superlative punkest)

  1. Of, from, or resembling the punk subculture.
    You look very punk with your t-shirt, piercing and chains.


punk (third-person singular simple present punks, present participle punking, simple past and past participle punked)

  1. To pimp.
  2. To forcibly perform anal sex upon an unwilling partner.
    Ricky punked his new cell-mates.
  3. To prank.
    I got expelled when I punked the principal.
  4. (especially with "out") To give up or concede; to act like a wimp.
    Jimmy was going to help me with the prank, but he punked (out) at the last minute.
Usage notes[edit]

The relatively tame 21st century usage of punk to mean "prank" was popularized by the American television show Punk'd. Until as recently as the late 20th century, punk still connoted rape or submitting to anal rape (punk out). The second use of the term punk-out is now comparable to acting like a pussy and mildly implies submissive behavior in general.


Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Perhaps a reduction of spunk (tinder); compare funk (rotten wood). Alternatively, perhaps from Unami punkw (dust)[2].[1][3]


punk (countable and uncountable, plural punks)

  1. (uncountable) Any material used as tinder for lighting fires, such as agaric, dried wood, or touchwood, but especially wood altered by certain fungi.
    • 1899, H. B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians, page 271:
      On one occasion a venerable old Indian man, who, in order to light his pipe, was trying to catch a spark upon a piece of punk struck from his flint and steel; ...
    • 1922, Harry Ignatius Marshall, The Karen People of Burma, page 61:
      The oil is mixed with bits of dry wood or punk and moulded into sticks about a cubit long and an inch in diameter by putting it into joints of small bamboo.
    • 2001, William W. Johnstone, War of the Mountain Man, page 116:
      He made him a little smoldering pocket of punk to light the fuses and waited.
  2. (countable) A utensil for lighting wicks or fuses (such as those of fireworks) resembling stick incense.
    • 1907, Jack London, The Road, [1]:
      On the end a coal of fire slowly smouldered. It would last for hours, and my cell-mate called it a "punk."
    • 1994, Ashland Price, Viking Tempest, page 353:
      Then, without another word, he rose and left the shelter, apparently in order to light the vessel's wick with a punk from the dying campfire.
    • 2004, Shawn Shiflett, Hidden Place, page 221:
      He raised the cylinder high in the air with his bare hand, used a punk to light the fuse, and KABOOM!


  1. 1.0 1.1 punk” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  2. ^ Lenape Talking Dictionary, punkw
  3. ^ Robert K. Barnhart (editor), The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology (H. W. Wilson, 1988), page 864: "Probably borrowed from Algonquian (Delaware) ponk, literally, living ashes."


French Wikipedia has articles on:

Wikipedia fr


From English punk.



punk m (plural punks)

  1. punk


punk m (feminine punke, masculine plural punks, feminine plural punkes)

  1. punk

Norwegian Bokmål[edit]



punk m (definite singular punken; uncountable)

  1. punk music

Alternative forms[edit]



punk m (uncountable)

  1. punk (a social and musical movement)
  2. punk; punk rock (a subgenre of rock music)


punk m f (plural punks)

  1. punk (a member of the punk movement or fan of punk rock)