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Origin of gunk

An Americanism dating back to 1932; originally a trademark name for a degreasing solvent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gunk

Historical Examples of gunk

  • Gunk; a 'take in,' a 'sell'; as a verb, to 'take in,' to cheat.

  • Alive or dead, the gunk was the most powerful desiccant I'd ever heard of.

  • Penrod uttered one half-hearted "Gunk" as he turned in at his own gate.

    Penrod and Sam

    Booth Tarkington

  • "Gunk" is the poor makeshift that must be employed to indicate it.

    Penrod and Sam

    Booth Tarkington

  • I've been fighting this cowlick ever since I've been a kid—stocking caps, gunk, the works.

    The Romantic Analogue

    W.W. Skupeldyckle

British Dictionary definitions for gunk


  1. informal slimy, oily, or filthy matter

Word Origin for gunk

C20: perhaps of imitative 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

Word Origin and History for gunk

1949, "viscous substance," American English, apparently from Gunk, trademark for a thick liquid soap patented 1932 by A.F. Curran Co. of Malden, Mass.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper