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[skuhngk] /skʌŋk/
noun, plural skunks (especially collectively) skunk.
a small North American mammal, Mephitis mephitis, of the weasel family, having a black coat with a white, V -shaped stripe on the back, and ejecting a fetid odor when alarmed or attacked.
any of several related or similar animals.
Informal. a thoroughly contemptible person.
U.S. Navy Slang. an unidentified ship or target.
verb (used with object)
Slang. to defeat thoroughly in a game, especially while keeping an opponent from scoring:
The team skunked the favorites in the crucial game.
Origin of skunk
1625-35, Americanism; < the Massachusett reflex of Proto-Algonquian *šeka·kwa (derivative of *šek- urinate + -a·kw fox, foxlike animal Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for skunk
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Was the occupant a rat or a skunk, and if so, what was he going to do?

    A Woman Tenderfoot Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
  • Of course the puppy barked; of course the skunk did not like it.

    A Woman Tenderfoot Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
  • Why, there are a whole lot of skunk farms all over the Northern States.

  • Because I've got a whole lot of respect for the skunk family.

  • The Pole-cat or skunk is about the size of a kitten eight months old.

    The History of Louisiana Le Page Du Pratz
  • He abandoned her like a skunk, and his people threw the blame on her for tempting him.

    People of Position Stanley Portal Hyatt
  • Once fairly hit by this fluid, I imagine most animals will drop the skunk.

    The Meaning of Evolution Samuel Christian Schmucker
  • Perdition to the land where a man could not live unless he was a skunk or a cur.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • It won't do any harm for you to know the kind of skunk you're workin' for.

    The Vagrant Duke George Gibbs
British Dictionary definitions for skunk


noun (pl) skunks, skunk
any of various American musteline mammals of the subfamily Mephitinae, esp Mephitis mephitis (striped skunk), typically having a black and white coat and bushy tail: they eject an unpleasant-smelling fluid from the anal gland when attacked
(informal) a despicable person
(slang) a strain of cannabis smoked for its exceptionally powerful psychoactive properties
(transitive) (US & Canadian, slang) to defeat overwhelmingly in a game
Word Origin
C17: from Algonquian; compare Abnaki segākw skunk
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 skunk

1630s, squunck, from a southern New England Algonquian language (probably Abenaki) seganku, from Proto-Algonquian */šeka:kwa/, from */šek-/ "to urinate" + */-a:kw/ "fox." As an insult, attested from 1841. Skunk cabbage is attested from 1751; earlier skunkweed (1738).


"to completely defeat (in a game), to shut out from scoring," 1831, from skunk (n.). Related: Skunked; skunking.

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



  1. A despicable person; bastard, louse (1840+)
  2. Marijuana; pot, grass (1990s+ Narcotics)


  1. To defeat utterly, esp to hold the opponent scoreless in sports; trounce; clobber: They're saying I'm going to get skunked in the black community (1849+)
  2. To learn by deduction the signals used by an opposing team telling the quarterback what play to call (1980s+ Football)
  3. To lack wind for sailing: We went to Baja last month, but got skunked every day (1990s+ Windsurfers)

Related Terms

drunk as a skunk

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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