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  1. a built-in platform bed, as on a ship.
  2. Informal. any bed.
  3. a cabin used for sleeping quarters, as in a summer camp; bunkhouse.
  4. a trough for feeding cattle.
verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to occupy a bunk or any sleeping quarters: Joe and Bill bunked together at camp.
verb (used with object)
  1. to provide with a place to sleep.

Origin of bunk1

First recorded in 1750–60; back formation from bunker


verb (used with or without object)
  1. to bump.

Origin of bunk3

perhaps expressive alteration of bump


[buhngk]British Slang.
verb (used with object)
  1. to absent oneself from: to bunk a history class.
verb (used without object)
  1. to run off or away; flee.
  1. do a bunk, to leave hastily, especially under suspicious circumstances; run away.

Origin of bunk4

First recorded in 1865–70; perhaps special use of bunk1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bunking

Historical Examples

  • Not that I blame you for bunking,—Stuart smiled—the strain was intolerable.

    Twos and Threes

    G. B. Stern

  • Other officers are requested not to escape, and will be surely shot in bunking.

    The Secrets of a Kuttite

    Edward O. Mousley

  • Not Langford,he was bunking with his friend in that same room.

  • Matt was reduced to the ignominy of returning to the hotel and bunking there.

    Adventures in Swaziland

    Owen Rowe O'Neil

  • Well, Felix, the Mexican herder, told me some Navajos had been bunking here.

British Dictionary definitions for bunking


  1. a narrow shelflike bed fixed along a wall
  2. short for bunk bed
  3. informal any place where one sleeps
  1. (intr often foll by down) to prepare to sleephe bunked down on the floor
  2. (intr) to occupy a bunk or bed
  3. (tr) to provide with a bunk or bed

Word Origin

C19: probably short for bunker


  1. informal short for bunkum (def. 1)


  1. a hurried departure, usually under suspicious circumstances (esp in the phrase do a bunk)
  1. (usually foll by off) to play truant from (school, work, etc)

Word Origin

C19: perhaps from bunk 1 (in the sense: to occupy a bunk, hence a hurried departure, as on a ship)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bunking



"sleeping berth," 1758, probably a shortened form of bunker (n.) in its sense "seat." Bunk-bed (n.) attested by 1869.



"nonsense," 1900, short for bunkum, phonetic spelling of Buncombe, a county in North Carolina. The usual story (by 1841) of its origin is this: At the close of the protracted Missouri statehood debates, supposedly on Feb. 25, 1820, N.C. Representative Felix Walker (1753-1828) began what promised to be a "long, dull, irrelevant speech," and he resisted calls to cut it short by saying he was bound to say something that could appear in the newspapers in the home district and prove he was on the job. "I shall not be speaking to the House," he confessed, "but to Buncombe." Bunkum has been American English slang for "nonsense" since 1841 (from 1838 as generic for "a U.S. Representative's home district").

MR. WALKER, of North Carolina, rose then to address the Committee on the question [of Missouri statehood]; but the question was called for so clamorously and so perseveringly that Mr. W. could proceed no farther than to move that the committee rise. [Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 1st Session, p. 1539]



"to sleep in a bunk," 1840, originally nautical, from bunk (n.1). Related: Bunked; bunking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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