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[lurk] /lɜrk/
verb (used without object)
to lie or wait in concealment, as a person in ambush; remain in or around a place secretly or furtively.
to go furtively; slink; steal.
to exist unperceived or unsuspected.
Chiefly Computers. to read or observe an ongoing discussion without participating in it, as on a message board.
noun, Australian Informal.
an underhand scheme; dodge.
an easy, somewhat lazy or unethical way of earning a living, performing a task, etc.
a hideout.
Origin of lurk
1250-1300; Middle English lurken, frequentative of lower2; compare Norwegian lurka to sneak away
Related forms
lurker, noun
lurking, noun
lurkingly, adverb
1. Lurk, skulk, sneak, prowl suggest avoiding observation, often because of a sinister purpose. To lurk is to lie in wait for someone or to hide about a place, often without motion, for periods of time. Skulk suggests cowardliness and stealth of movement. Sneak emphasizes the attempt to avoid being seen. It has connotations of slinking and of an abject meanness of manner, whether there exists a sinister intent or the desire to avoid punishment for some misdeed. Prowl implies the definite purpose of seeking for prey; it suggests continuous action in roaming or wandering, slowly and quietly but watchfully, as a cat that is hunting mice. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lurker
Historical Examples
  • But no matter how he strove to run down the lurker, he lost him every time.

    Brothers of Peril Theodore Goodridge Roberts
  • But the lurker refused to be caught and darted away into the shadows.

  • Then he glanced over his shoulder to see if any lurker was watching them.

  • With the mist floating across those openings, it would be easy for a lurker to watch him unseen.

    The Defiant Agents Andre Alice Norton
  • Go thou to thy charge among the piles of the fuel, and see that no lurker remaineth to do injury.

    The Wept of Wish-Ton-Wish James Fenimore Cooper
  • At that moment she could not have spurred her pony had the lurker in the brush sprung forth into her path!

    The Heart of Canyon Pass Thomas K. Holmes
  • His conviction that he had killed the lurker became so firm that he stood erect to cover the remaining distance at a rush.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • Even Alice had now stopped thinking of Mr. Richard Ravenal, and thought only of the lurker in ambush.

    The Wouldbegoods E. Nesbit
  • One of the sawing claws opened and closed, separating the head of the lurker from its body.

    Plague Ship Andre Norton
  • He had recognized the lurker as a former unreliable employe of the Great Northern, discharged at the time of the great strike.

British Dictionary definitions for lurker


verb (intransitive)
to move stealthily or be concealed, esp for evil purposes
to be present in an unobtrusive way; go unnoticed
to read messages posted on an electronic network without contributing messages oneself
(Austral & NZ, slang) a scheme or stratagem for success
Derived Forms
lurker, noun
Word Origin
C13: probably frequentative of lour; compare Middle Dutch loeren to lie in wait
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 lurker

"one who lurks," early 14c., agent noun from lurk (v.).



c.1300, lurken "to hide, lie hidden," probably from Scandinavian (cf. dialectal Norwegian lurka "to sneak away," dialectal Swedish lurka "to be slow in one's work"), perhaps ultimately related to Middle English luren "to frown, lurk" (see lower (v.2)). Related: Lurked; lurking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for lurker



  1. A person who ''lurks'': according to David Brooks, a pro-gun control lurker/ You just sneak around and listen without revealing your presence, thus becoming what internauts pejoratively call a lurker (1990s+ Computer)
  2. A person who enters a computer system illegally; an uninvited computer eavesdropper: Ian had found a lurker in the system (1970s+ Computer)



  1. To ride about looking for sex partners; cruise: Me and the boys are going lurken' tonight to pick up some foxy broads (1960s+ Black)
  2. : Lurk: To log onto a bulletin board and read the discussion without participating or making your presence known (1990s+ Computer)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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