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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for skunk
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To kill without scent the backbone should be broken by a quick blow or the skunk should be drowned.

    Fur Farming For Profit Hermon Basil Laymon
  • You don't know what real sport is until you jump a skunk like that in a panic.

    The Root of Evil Thomas Dixon
  • He was old enough to know many things, and he knew too much to fight either a skunk or a Weasel.

    Among the Night People Clara Dillingham Pierson
  • Are you the skunk that Wardell kicked off the Shenandoah for stealing a bottle of wine?

  • There are times when my whole body kicks at the thought of that skunk getting away with his play.

    The Heart of Unaga Ridgwell Cullum
  • Little as I guessed it, this story really began at skunk's Misery.

    The La Chance Mine Mystery Susan Carleton Jones
  • A skunk's a varmint that don't stink tell ye meddle with him, but Hank Halliday stinks all the time.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • That skunk thought that I had seen him, and slipped into the saloon to get out of sight.

  • Mrs. —— was looking beautiful in a bottle-green suiting, collared with skunk, but a little thin, I thought.

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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