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Origin of skank

First recorded in 1980–85; origin uncertain
Related formsskank·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for skank

grime, dirt, smut, slime, muck, scum, dregs, waste, skank

British Dictionary definitions for skank


  1. a fast dance to reggae music
  2. slang a promiscuous female
verb (intr)
  1. to perform this dance
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 skank

"unattractive woman," 1965, perhaps from skag in this sense (1920s), of unknown origin. Verbal meaning "dance to reggae music" is 1976, probably not the same word, but also of unknown origin. Related: Skanking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper