verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
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Origin of dunk
OTHER WORDS FROM dunkdunk·a·ble, adjective, noundunker, noun
Words nearby dunk
What does dunk mean?
Dunk means to dip or submerge something in liquid or something like a liquid.
More specifically, it can refer to dipping foods into liquids or sauces or dips, like dunking a doughnut into coffee before eating it (but not for so long that it gets too soggy and part of it falls in—it’s a delicate process).
In basketball, to dunk is to put the ball directly into the hoop, especially forcefully (this kind of dunking is the opposite of delicate). Such a shot is called a dunk or a slam-dunk or a slam or a jam or a stuff or a throw-down (or even more colorful names, if you’re Darryl Dawkins).
Example: I like to dunk my fries into the milkshake—don’t knock it till you try it.
Where does dunk come from?
The first records of the word dunk come from the 1860s. It comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch word dunke, meaning “to dip” or “to immerse.” Dunke is related to the Middle German dunken, which means “to duck” and is the basis of the word duck (the verb, not the animal). Dunk started to be used in reference to the “dunk shot” in basketball around the 1950s.
Most generally, dunk refers to submerging something in a liquid. If you dunk your head in the water, you put it under and then pull it out. A dunk tank at a carnival is a game that involves trying to hit a target to submerge a (usually annoying) person into a tank of water. Usually, this kind of dunking involves a liquid like water, but you can also dunk things into thicker substances, like dunking a paintbrush into a can of paint.
The same thing goes for dunking when it involves food. Most commonly, foods are dunked in liquids, like cookies in milk or tea, or bread in soup. But you can also dunk foods into things other than liquids, like French fries in ketchup (or mayo), or chips in dip. However, doing these last two things is more often called dipping. If you want to get really technical about it, it’s perhaps more often called dunking when the goal is for the food being dunked to soak up whatever it’s being dunked into. If the goal is for something to coat the outside of it, it’s more likely to be called dipping. Of course, the two words are often used interchangeably.
Dunking is one of the most exciting parts of basketball. Dunks are usually intense, high-flying, and acrobatic. There are all different kinds of dunks: two-handed jams, windmill dunks, 360 dunks. The NBA hosts an annual dunk contest to see who can pull off the best dunk.
The term slam-dunk is sometimes used in a figurative way to refer to something that is certain to be successful, comparing the certainty of success to how easy it is to not miss when putting a basketball directly in the hoop—assuming you can jump that high and no one’s guarding you. In a real game, though, when there are a lot of people guarding the basket, it can be difficult to dunk, which makes it a big deal. When a player gets dunked on, their opponent dunks when they’re trying to stop them from doing exactly that (like when Scottie Pippen dunked on Patrick Ewing). By extension, the slang use of the expression dunk on means “to best someone in a dramatic and humiliating fashion.”
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What are some other forms related to dunk?
- dunker (noun)
- dunkable (adjective, noun)
What are some synonyms for dunk?
What are some words that share a root or word element with dunk?
What are some words that often get used in discussing dunk?
How is dunk used in real life?
Dunking is just as fun with food as it is in basketball, and the word dunk is most commonly used in those two contexts.
my nails look like they got dunked in paint
— sherry (@sherryrrah) September 4, 2012
I dunk my cookies in coffee — sometimes for breakfast, LOL. Sometimes you gotta be a little bad.
— Travel Diva Lisa (@4TravelDivaLisa) October 6, 2019
— Champs Sports (@champssports) January 27, 2019
Try using dunk!
Is dunk used correctly in the following sentence?
He dunks his cookies into milk with the intensity that Vince Carter dunks a basketball.
Example sentences from the Web for dunk
An NFT video of LeBron James blocking a shot sold for $208,000 in January to a group of investors who expect its value to rise because it’s an original, verified and rare piece, even though anyone can rewatch the dunk on the internet.
A couple minutes later, a Penn State defender denied his dunk.Aaron Wiggins is playing the best basketball of his Maryland career|Emily Giambalvo|February 26, 2021|Washington Post
Steph Curry took early criticism personally and responded with a 62-point outburstIt was a feed from Beal that got Bryant the dunk in Brooklyn.Thomas Bryant is making the leap by controlling his emotions. Westbrook and Beal help, too.|Ava Wallace|January 6, 2021|Washington Post
In Year 2 of his career, almost 21 percent of Griffin’s shots were dunks.The Pistons’ Problem Isn’t Their Offseason Moves, It’s Their Struggling Veterans|Chris Herring (email@example.com)|January 4, 2021|FiveThirtyEight
Center Jay Huff led Virginia with 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, including several dunks in the first half.Virginia follows upset with steadier showing, earns easy win in home opener|Gene Wang|December 2, 2020|Washington Post
That may be, but experts say that “similarities” to other attacks is hardly a slam dunk.FBI Won’t Stop Blaming North Korea for Sony Hack -- Despite New Evidence|Shane Harris|December 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
And the information that the FBI has presented so far strikes many experts as hardly a slam dunk against Pyongyang.
Apparently, 2016 is not shaping up as a Democratic slam dunk.
What it did do was drag him down, as though my shot had dropped him into the dunk tank at the state fair.
Even as a Democrat, I am rooting for the GOP to seize this slam-dunk opportunity.To Make Their Victory Durable, the GOP Must Fix the Minimum Wage|Dmitri Mehlhorn|November 6, 2014|DAILY BEAST
He always looks like he's about to slam-dunk your ass, and he's really into raising his voice for dramatic effect.Little Brother|Cory Doctorow
And Dinky-Dunk listened, with his astronomer mouth set rather grim, and otherwise not in the least put out.
All the way out from Montreal Dinky-Dunk, in his kindly way, kept doing his best to key me down and make me not expect too much.
But I don't believe Dinky-Dunk even heard him, for he was busy throwing kisses at me.
But what's the use of wishing for luxuries, when we haven't even a can-opener—Dinky-Dunk says he's used a hatchet for over a year!