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A biting midge or sandfly (family Ceratopogonidae), known as a punkie (etymology 1) in the United States.

Etymology 1[edit]

From Jersey Dutch *punkje + English -ie (diminutive suffix). *Punkje is derived from Delaware Munsee *pónkwes + Dutch -je (diminutive suffix); and *pónkwes from Proto-Algonquian *penkw- (ashes; dust) (whence Unami punkw (dust); probably referring to the insects’ small size)[1][2] + *-ehs- (diminutive suffix).[3] Compare the name of the Pennsylvania, USA, borough Punxsutawney (from Unami punkwës utènay (sandfly town)).


punkie (plural punkies)

  1. (chiefly New England) A small two-winged fly or midge of the family Ceratopogonidae, which bites and then sucks the blood of mammals; a biting midge or sandfly.
    Synonyms: noseeum, no-see-um, sandflea
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Etymology 2[edit]

A punkie (etymology 2) in Cornwall, England, UK, made from a turnip.

Possibly an alteration of pumpkin (plant of the species Cucurbita pepo; round orange or yellow fruit of this plant; (archaic) any type of edible gourd) +‎ -ie (diminutive suffix).[4]


punkie (plural punkies)

  1. (South West England, chiefly Somerset) In full punkie lantern: a lantern similar to a jack-o'-lantern consisting of a gourd such as a pumpkin or a root vegetable such as a mangelwurzel or swede which has been hollowed out, in which a candle has been placed; these are chiefly displayed during Punkie Night in late October.
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Etymology 3[edit]

A punkie (etymology 3) or pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus).

Possibly an alteration of the first two syllables of pumpkinseed (the North American sunfish Lepomis gibbosus) +‎ -ie (diminutive suffix).


punkie (plural punkies)

  1. (US) Synonym of pumpkinseed (“a North American sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus”).
    • 1949 October–November, John R. Greeley, “Sunfishes”, in P. W. Fosburgh, editor, New York State Conservationist, volume 4, number 2, Albany, N.Y.: State of New York Conservation Department, →OCLC, page 14, column 2:
      But, although anything but a wary fish, the sunfish is not easy to catch because of its small mouth. Unless a small hook is used, meager results are secured in proportion to the antics of the cork or bobber, which in good "punkie" territory is likely to jiggle, stand on end and depart bottomward on short notice.


  1. ^ “punkw”, in Lenape Talking Dictionary[1], 2002–present, archived from the original on 7 March 2016.
  2. ^ Robert K. Barnhart and Sol Steinmetz, editors (1988), The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, New York, N.Y.: H[alsey] W[illiam] Wilson Company, →ISBN, page 864:Probably borrowed from Algonquian (Delaware) ponk, literally, living ashes.
  3. ^ punkie, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; punkie1, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  4. ^ Compare punkie, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; punkie2, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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