1 of 3


crooked; crooking; crooks


2 of 3


: an implement having a bent or hooked form: such as
: a shepherd's staff
: a part of something that is hook-shaped, curved, or bent
the crook of an umbrella handle
: bend, curve
: a person who engages in fraudulent or criminal practices


3 of 3


Australia and New Zealand
: not right:
: irritable, angry
used especially in the phrase go crook
: ill, unwell

Example Sentences

Verb He crooked his finger at us and led us to the table. the road suddenly crooked to the left Noun He thinks politicians are just a bunch of crooks. the crook of his arm The squirrel sat in the crook of the tree. the crook of the cane See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Had the train recently hosted the cast of Cirque du Soleil, perhaps, who insisted on descending head first, arms outstretched, after crooking one knee over the top rung? Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 4 May 2020 Over the last decades, people are using smartphones and gadgets and living a working life by the computer with shoulders crooked forward. Vogue, 16 May 2019 Doing so causes the C930 to spring open slightly, allowing you to crook a finger under the lid and continue opening it. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, 30 Aug. 2018 Lines that appear straight on the linens were crooked when scanned into a computer. Vipal Monga, WSJ, 30 May 2018 Would crooked Hillary have brought little rocket man to the table? Fox News, 2 May 2018 Mother daughter teas are a particularly fun opportunity for mothers and daughters to dress up, crook their pinkies while eating tiny sandwiches, sip tea, and spend quality time together. Melissa Locker, Southern Living, 31 Jan. 2018 Mills crooked his head, brow furrowed, and paused a second. Michael Powell, New York Times, 17 July 2017
There's winning ugly and winning by hook or by crook. The New York Daily News, Arkansas Online, 10 Jan. 2023 On the campaign trail, Mr. Bolsonaro has called Mr. da Silva a crook and a communist, while Mr. da Silva describes the president as authoritarian and inhumane. Flávia Milhorance, New York Times, 29 Sep. 2022 In contrast, the Watergate hearings occurred as the nation was trying to determine whether Nixon was a crook. Dallas News, 13 June 2022 By hook or by crook, certainly by force of personality and not a wealth of resources, each one clawed his way to renown, carrying with him the language and character and history of the neighborhood. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, 23 Sep. 2022 Qadir Seddiqi, the eldest brother who worked in the Senate, was in his room sleeping with his 10-day-old son in the crook of his arm. ProPublica, 15 Dec. 2022 The ball rolling off the tip of his fingers on passes, grasping it in the crook of his elbow and darting off on runs. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Nov. 2022 What’s different was out back, in the crook of a treeline. Kyle Whitmire, al, 3 Nov. 2022 Though Shane Black’s crime comedy centers around a crook pretending to be an actor, there are still enough Santa hats and Christmas trees scattered throughout to qualify the film as a seasonal watch. Deanna Janes, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crook.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English crok, from Old Norse krōkr hook


probably short for crooked

First Known Use


12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1898, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of crook was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near crook

Cite this Entry

“Crook.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb


2 of 2 noun
: a shepherd's staff with one end curved into a hook
: a dishonest person (as a thief or swindler)
: a curved or hooked part of a thing : bend

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