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[huhlk] /hʌlk/
the body of an old or dismantled ship.
a ship specially built to serve as a storehouse, prison, etc., and not for sea service.
a clumsy-looking or unwieldy ship or boat.
a bulky or unwieldy person, object, or mass.
the shell of a wrecked, burned-out, or abandoned vehicle, building, or the like.
verb (used without object)
to loom in bulky form; appear as a large, massive bulk (often followed by up):
The bus hulked up suddenly over the crest of the hill.
British Dialect. to lounge, slouch, or move in a heavy, loutish manner.
Origin of hulk
before 1000; Middle English hulke, Old English hulc; perhaps < Medieval Latin hulcus < Greek holkás trading vessel, orig., towed ship Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hulk
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He seemed huger than ever with his hulk sinking into the gray darkness behind him.

    Dust Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
  • “Now the next thing is to get aboard the hulk,” was Dick's thought.

    The Dare Boys of 1776 Stephen Angus Cox
  • Bought her for eight dollars of the feller that owned her, and she was a hulk for sartin then.

    The Woman-Haters Joseph C. Lincoln
  • He's been aboard this hulk afore, and we made him swim for it that time.

    Captain Blood Rafael Sabatini
  • Near at hand was the hulk of the second ship, now a blazing furnace.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer Cyrus Townsend Brady
British Dictionary definitions for hulk


the body of an abandoned vessel
(derogatory) a large or unwieldy vessel
(derogatory) a large ungainly person or thing
(often pl) the frame or hull of a ship, used as a storehouse, etc, or (esp in 19th-century Britain) as a prison
(intransitive) (Brit, informal) to move clumsily
(intransitive) often foll by up. to rise massively
Word Origin
Old English hulc, from Medieval Latin hulca, from Greek holkas barge, from helkein to tow
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
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Word Origin and History for hulk

Old English hulc "light, fast ship" (but in Middle English a heavy, unwieldy one), probably from Old Dutch hulke and Medieval Latin hulcus, perhaps ultimately from Greek holkas "merchant ship," literally "ship that is towed," from helkein "to pull" (from PIE root *selk- "to pull, draw"). Meaning "body of an old, worn-out ship" is first recorded 1670s. The Hulks ("Great Expectations") were old ships used as prisons. Sense of "big, clumsy person" is first recorded c.1400 (early 14c. as a surname: Stephen le Hulke).


"to be clumsy, unwieldy, lazy," 1789, from hulk (n.). Related: Hulked; hulking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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