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[puhngk] /pʌŋk/
any prepared substance, usually in stick form, that will smolder and can be used to light fireworks, fuses, etc.
dry, decayed wood that can be used as tinder.
conk3 .
a spongy substance derived from fungi; amadou; touchwood.
Origin of punk1
An Americanism dating back to 1680-90; origin uncertain


[puhngk] /pʌŋk/
  1. something or someone worthless or unimportant.
  2. a young ruffian; hoodlum.
  3. an inexperienced youth.
  4. a young male partner of a homosexual.
  5. an apprentice, especially in the building trades.
  6. Prison Slang. a boy.
a style or movement characterized by the adoption of aggressively unconventional and often bizarre or shocking clothing, hairstyles, makeup, etc., and the defiance of social norms of behavior, usually associated with punk rock musicians and fans.
a punker.
Archaic. a prostitute.
Informal. poor in quality or condition.
of, relating to, or characteristic of punk rock:
a punk band.
pertaining to, characteristic of, or adopting punk styles:
punk youths; punk hairstyles in various colors.
First recorded in 1590-1600; of obscure origin; the sense development is apparently “prostitute” > “catamite” > “hoodlum”; the adj. “poor in quality” (1896) is unclearly derived and perhaps a distinct word Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for punk
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But you certainly were all to the punk in your judgment about that game.

  • Of accursed data, it seems to me that punk is pretty damnable.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • They were all sizes, but most of them were large, and you need not “punk” them to see if they were ripe.

    The Flight of Pony Baker W. D. Howells
  • And then the truth was driven in that my new rags were punk.

    Rippling Rhymes

    Walt Mason
  • I 'clare I dunno, Mas' Sam, 'thout you got some flints an' punk in your pockets.

    The Big Brother

    George Cary Eggleston
British Dictionary definitions for punk


  1. a youth movement of the late 1970s, characterized by anti-Establishment slogans and outrageous clothes and hairstyles
  2. an adherent of punk
  3. short for punk rock
  4. (as modifier): a punk record
an inferior, rotten, or worthless person or thing
worthless articles collectively
a petty criminal or hoodlum
(obsolete) a young male homosexual; catamite
(obsolete) a prostitute
inferior, rotten, or worthless
Derived Forms
punkish, adjective
Word Origin
C16: via Polari from Spanish pu(n)ta prostitute,pu(n)to male prostitute


dried decayed wood that smoulders when ignited: used as tinder
any of various other substances that smoulder when ignited, esp one used to light fireworks
Word Origin
C18: of uncertain origin
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 punk

"inferior, bad," 1896, also as a noun, "something worthless," earlier "rotten wood used as tinder" (1680s), "A word in common use in New England, as well as in the other Northern States and Canada" [Bartlett]; perhaps from Delaware (Algonquian) ponk, literally "dust, powder, ashes;" but Gaelic spong "tinder" also has been suggested (cf. spunk "touchwood, tinder," 1580s).


"worthless person" (especially a young hoodlum), 1917, probably from punk kid "criminal's apprentice," underworld slang first attested 1904 (with overtones of "catamite"). Ultimately from punk (n.1) or else from punk "prostitute, harlot, strumpet," first recorded 1590s, of unknown origin.

For sense shift from "harlot" to "homosexual," cf. gay. By 1923 used generally for "young boy, inexperienced person" (originally in show business, e.g. punk day, circus slang from 1930, "day when children are admitted free"). The verb meaning "to back out of" is from 1920.

The "young criminal" sense is no doubt the inspiration in punk rock first attested 1971 (in a Dave Marsh article in "Creem," referring to Rudi "Question Mark" Martinez); popularized 1976.

If you looked different, people tried to intimidate you all the time. It was the same kind of crap you had to put up with as a hippie, when people started growing long hair. Only now it was the guys with the long hair yelling at you. You think they would have learned something. I had this extreme parrot red hair and I got hassled so much I carried a sign that said "FUCK YOU ASSHOLE." I got so tired of yelling it, I would just hold up the sign. [Bobby Startup, Philadelphia punk DJ, "Philadelphia Weekly," Oct. 10, 2001]


"Chinese incense," 1870, from punk (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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punk in Culture

punk definition

A type of rock 'n' roll with loud, energetic music and often harsh lyrics criticizing traditional society and culture. It was named after the punks, an anarchistic youth movement that surfaced in Great Britain in the 1970s.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for punk

punk 1


  1. A catamite; young companion of a sodomite; gunsel1 (1904+)
  2. (also punk kid) Any young or inexperienced person; boy; kid: Sparky was always a fresh punk (mid-1920s+)
  3. A petty hoodlum; meager minor tough or criminal: to emphasize just how tough a Division Street punk could be (1917+)
  4. Any inferior, insignificant person, like an ineffective fighter, jockey, pool player, waiter, porter, etc (1917+)
  5. Any young circus animal (1926+ Circus)


To sodomize; do anal sex to; bugger, cornhole: The guy peeled off Tate's pants and punked him (1970s+)

[ultimately fr 1500s British, ''prostitute, harlot,'' of unknown origin]

punk 2


Inferior;poor; bad: The idea strikes me as punk (1896+)


: the punk workers who sell corn removers


  1. Bread (1891+)
  2. A patent medicine (1940s+)

[probably early 1700s, ''rotting wood, touchwood,'' of unknown origin, usu taken to be fr spunk, of the same meaning, fr Gaelic spong, ''tinder'']

punk 3


: The atmosphere in North London's pubs is really punk


(also punker) An adherent to a style of dress and behavior marked by seemingly threatening, dangerous, and aggressive attributes, such as safety pins worn through ear lobes, razor blades around the neck, and torn clothes: In the beginning, punk wasn't just fashion. Punk was outrage (1976+)

[originally meant to be reminiscent of the hoodlums called punks in the 1950s, but soon an independent style]

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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