puke

[ pyook ]
/ pyuk /
Slang.

verb (used with or without object), puked, puk·ing.

to vomit.

noun

vomit.
  1. any food or drink that is repulsive.
  2. anything or anyone that is contemptible or worthless.

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Origin of puke

First recorded in 1590–1600; perhaps imitative of the sound
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What does puke mean?

Puke is one of the many informal ways to refer to vomit.

Where does puke come from?

Puke as a verb is first recorded in the late 1500s, with the noun following not long after in the early 1600s. Its etymology isn’t exactly clear, but it seems to be distantly related to another one of our many throw-up words, spew.

Shakespeare—ever the out-pourer of words—notably used puke in his 1599 play As You Like It in one of the immortal passages of all the English language:

All the world’s a stage,
all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

And since, the word puke has truly left its mark on the English language, used far and wide as a colorful way to talk about vomiting and vomit.

Puke has inspired many slang terms, especially for something or someone obnoxious or contemptible (e.g., you little puke or pukeface).

It especially figures in expressions that characterize how disgusting or repugnant somebody finds something. Holden Caulfield, for instance, memorably deployed it for his feelings about the word grand: “It’s phony. I could puke every time I hear it.”

The lowly word puke, though, isn’t just a favorite of high literature. The beloved character Chunk spills his guts about a puke prank in the 1985 cult classic, The Goonies, for instance.

Other common occurrences of puke are in the phrases it makes me wanna puke (it’s so gross one could vomit), puke (a little bit) in my mouth (a more expressive reaction to something nasty), puke green or yellow (color), and puke and rally (a slang term involving binge-drinking). And any parent can tell you all about baby puke—and any cat owner, cat puke, as well.

How is puke used in real life?

The word puke has, um, really gotten all over the place, lexically speaking. It’s a noun, a verb, even an adjective, pukey. Puke can even be an interjection used in reaction to something gross: Puke!

Puke can refer to literal vomiting, but it just as often describes how something makes us feel—as if we needed to puke.

While puke isn’t considered offensive, it may be considered impolite, especially when people are eating. Vomit tends to be more formal.

More examples of puke:

“If a boy called me princess I’d puke in my mouth.”
—@21alexandraaaa, May 2018

“Puke is pretty yucky. Luckily, most kids don’t puke very often. And when you do, remember that you’ll probably feel better very soon.”
—KidsHealth, September 2017

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for puke

  • Raoul heard the Puke suck in a deep breath through his missing front teeth.

    Shaman|Robert Shea

British Dictionary definitions for puke

puke
/ (pjuːk) slang /

verb

to vomit

noun

the act of vomiting
the matter vomited

Word Origin for puke

C16: probably of imitative origin; compare German spucken to spit
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