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[purk] /pɜrk/
verb (used without object)
to become lively, cheerful, or vigorous, as after depression or sickness (usually followed by up):
The patients all perked up when we played the piano for them.
to act, or carry oneself, in a jaunty manner.
to put oneself forward briskly or presumptuously.
verb (used with object)
to make smart, trim, or jaunty (sometimes followed by up or out):
to perk up a suit with a new white blouse.
to raise smartly or briskly (often followed by up or out):
to perk one's head up.
perky; jaunty:
a perk manner.
Origin of perk1
1350-1400; Middle English perken; perhaps akin to peer2
Related forms
perkingly, adverb
perkish, adjective


[purk] /pɜrk/
verb (used with or without object), Informal.
to percolate:
Has the coffee perked yet? The research team is perking with new ideas.
1930-35, Americanism; by shortening and respelling of percolate Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for perking
Historical Examples
  • He was perking up his big ears and wagging his stump of a tail in front of him.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • And yet these perking courtiers are a long time seeing that.

    The Hero of the People Alexandre Dumas
  • Then she strolled over toward the Man, lifting her feet in her most aristocratic way and perking her head prettily.

    Tales of a Poultry Farm

    Clara Dillingham Pierson
  • He set coffee to perking, laid strips of bacon in a skillet and arranged half a dozen eggs nearby.

    Double Challenge James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • "Well, I for one don't like her a bit," declared Tilly, perking up the bow ends of the black sling that hung about her neck.

    The Sunbridge Girls at Six Star Ranch

    Eleanor H. (Eleanor Hodgman) Porter
  • She'll be sure to be peeking an' perking inter every thing the moment my back's turned.

    The World Before Them Susanna Moodie
  • It's simply ridiculous to have Margaret perking herself up for beaux.

    A Little Girl in Old New York Amanda Millie Douglas
  • So he had, like a very unwise rabbit, and was perking up his long ears within quite easy range of Charley's gun as he levelled it.

  • The seat next them was unoccupied, and Mallory dropped into it, perking his ears backward for news.

    Excuse Me! Rupert Hughes
  • "You hear it from the police, gentlemen," added Mr. Meredith, perking up a little.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
British Dictionary definitions for perking


pert; brisk; lively
See perk up
Word Origin
C16: see perk up


verb (informal)
(intransitive) (of coffee) to percolate
(transitive) to percolate (coffee)


(Brit, informal) short for perquisite
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 perking



late 14c., "to make oneself trim or smart," perhaps from Old North French perquer "to perch" (Modern French percher; see perch (n.1)), on notion of a bird preening its plumage. Sense of "raise oneself briskly" is first attested 1520s; perk up "recover liveliness" is from 1650s. Related: Perked; perking.



1869, shortened and altered form of perquisite (q.v.); as a verb, 1934 as shortened and altered form of percolate.

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

perk 1


Percolated coffee (1950s+)


To run smoothly and well; percolate: The project's perking now (1925+)

perk 2


Extra money, privileges, fringe benefits, etc, pertaining to a job or assignment: His men were delighted to be in Afghanistan, he said, mostly because of the perks

[1824+; fr perquisite]

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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