the action of plunging or being plunged into water or other liquid: Learning to canoe cost her several dunkings.

Origin of dunking

First recorded in 1915–20; dunk + -ing1



verb (used with object)

to dip (a doughnut, cake, etc.) into coffee, milk, or the like, before eating.
to submerge in a liquid: She dunked the curtains in the dye.
Basketball. to attempt to thrust (a ball) through the basket using a dunk shot.

verb (used without object)

to dip or submerge something, oneself, etc., in a liquid: She thinks it's vulgar to dunk. Let's dunk in the pool before dinner.
Basketball. to execute or attempt a dunk shot.


any flavorful sauce, dip, gravy, etc., into which portions of food are dipped before eating.
Basketball. dunk shot.

Origin of dunk

1865–70, Americanism; < Pennsylvania German dunke to dip, immerse; compare German tunken, Middle High German dunken, tunken, Old High German thunkōn, dunkōn
Related formsdunk·a·ble, adjective, noundunk·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for dunking

douse, soak, souse, immerse, saturate, sop, submerge, duck, submerse

Examples from the Web for dunking

Contemporary Examples of dunking

  • Sen. Paul has been getting a dunking in the media for his flip-flops on foreign policy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    My Coffee Klatch With Rand Paul

    P. J. O’Rourke

    September 27, 2014

  • Dunking does not display basketball skill - only height advantage,” Allen wrote in his 1937 book Better Basketball.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Secret History of the First Dunk

    Evin Demirel

    February 15, 2014

Historical Examples of dunking

  • More men were ranged in rows along the plastered walls, dunking their heels against the cracked wooden baseboards.

    Back Home

    Irvin S. Cobb

  • This is a breakfast treat especially good for dunking in coffee.

  • The dunking is done as rhythmically as the stirring, guests taking regular turns at twirling the fork to keep the cheese swirling.

    The Complete Book of Cheese

    Robert Carlton Brown

  • When everything is stirred smooth and bubbling, toss in the kirsch without missing a stroke of the fork and get to dunking.

    The Complete Book of Cheese

    Robert Carlton Brown

  • Large, crisp, hot potato chips make a pleasant change for dunking purposes.

    The Complete Book of Cheese

    Robert Carlton Brown

British Dictionary definitions for dunking



to dip (bread, etc) in tea, soup, etc, before eating
to submerge or be submerged in liquid
Derived Formsdunker, noun

Word Origin for dunk

C20: from Pennsylvania Dutch, from Middle High German dunken, from Old High German dunkōn; see duck ², tinge
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

Word Origin and History for dunking



1919, American English, from Pennsylvania German dunke "to dip," from Middle High German dunken, from Old High German dunkon, thunkon "to soak," from PIE root *teng- "to soak" (see tincture).

Basketball sense is first recorded 1937 as a verb, 1971 as a noun (earlier dunk shot). German-American Anabaptist sect of Dunkers (who baptize with triple immersion) first recorded by that name 1756.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper