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spunk

[spuhngk]
See more synonyms for spunk on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. pluck; spirit; mettle.
  2. touchwood, tinder, or punk.
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Origin of spunk

1530–40; blend of spark1 and obsolete funk spark, touchwood (cognate with Dutch vonk, German Funke)
Related formsspunk·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

gritgumptiongutsfortitudemoxiemettletoughnesscomegamenessbackbonepluckdeterminationdoggednessresolutionspiritsemenseedsperm

Examples from the Web for spunk

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Now when Spunk and I get to training—oh, and you haven't seen Spunk!

    Miss Billy

    Eleanor H. Porter

  • "Of course Billy's got Spunk, but—" he hesitated, and smiled a little.

    Miss Billy

    Eleanor H. Porter

  • As to Spunk's name—it was not Mrs. Stetson's fault that even that was left undisturbed.

    Miss Billy

    Eleanor H. Porter

  • And that reminds me, I wonder how Spunk will get along with Spunkie.

    Miss Billy

    Eleanor H. Porter

  • The Spunk pretended to be shying—put on the rags as if he was going to try legs with the Devastation.


British Dictionary definitions for spunk

spunk

noun
  1. informal courage or spirit
  2. British a slang word for semen
  3. touchwood or tinder, esp originally made from various spongy types of fungus
  4. Australian and NZ informal a person, esp male, who is sexually attractive
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Derived Formsspunky, adjectivespunkily, adverb

Word Origin

C16 (in the sense: a spark): from Scottish Gaelic spong tinder, sponge, from Latin spongia sponge

usage

The second sense of this word was formerly considered to be taboo, and it was labelled as such in previous editions of Collins English Dictionary . However, it has now become acceptable in speech, although some older or more conservative people may object to its use
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 spunk

n.

1530s, "a spark," Scottish, from Gaelic spong "tinder, pith, sponge," from Latin spongia (see sponge). The sense of "courage, pluck, mettle" is first attested 1773. A similar sense evolution took place in cognate Irish sponnc "sponge, tinder, spark, courage, spunk." Vulgar slang sense of "seminal fluid" is recorded from c.1888.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper