1 of 2


: a heavy clumsy ship
: the body of an old ship unfit for service
: a ship used as a prison
usually used in plural
every prisoner sent to the hulksKenneth Roberts
: an abandoned wreck or shell (as of a building or automobile)
: one that is bulky or unwieldy


2 of 2


hulked; hulking; hulks

intransitive verb

dialectal, England : to move ponderously
: to appear impressively large or massive : loom
factories hulked along the river

Examples of hulk in a Sentence

Noun The ship's rusting hulk is still visible on the rocks. the burned out hulk of the factory
Recent Examples on the Web
Soldiers guard gas stations and the hulks of shops emptied of most everything including food, appliances, beer and liquor during the industrial-sized looting frenzy at outlets big and small — from Walmart and Sam’s Club to neighborhood groceries — that immediately followed the storm. Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 But the agency completed only seven of a planned 17 reactors—demand for electricity grew slower than forecast—and today, unfinished reactor hulks lie scattered around the Valley. Robert Kunzig, The Atlantic, 25 July 2023 In the foreground a few spindly flowers, or weeds, are seen against the sky, while in the blurry background, the hulk of a semi rolls down a tilted horizon. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 27 June 2022 It would have been forgotten, just another rotting hulk, if not for the Klondike gold rush. David Reamer | Alaska History, Anchorage Daily News, 25 June 2023 The cornerstone of the Rams only title was a hidden hulk named Andrew Whitworth. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2023 The tragedy of the Titan, the debris of which was spotted Thursday near the encrusted hulk of the Titanic ocean liner, is a reminder that when humans invade exotic environments for which they are not adapted there is minimal margin for error. Joel Achenbach,, 22 June 2023 By 1916, the battered hulk of the Portland was a prime target for scavengers. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 9 May 2021 To reach the small pocket that Ukraine still controls, soldiers in armored vehicles hurtled along a single, narrow access road, passing hulks of blown-up and burned trucks that didn’t make it. Andrew E. Kramer Mauricio Lima, New York Times, 12 Apr. 2023
To most people, the name instantly brings to mind the image of a hulking brute, dragging his mate around by her coif. James Shreeve, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 Wasserman has been hulking up over the past two years, most recently adding Caric Sports Management to its portfolio in April. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 18 Sep. 2023 As their longtime rival WME hulked up and went public under Ari Emanuel’s stewardship, CAA has been looking to transact in a wildly unpredictable landscape over recent years — particularly after ingesting ICM Partners in 2022. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 8 Sep. 2023 The secular decline of linear television has accelerated at a faster pace than many observers had anticipated, applying high levels of pressure upon the industry to hastily adapt to the streaming era and hulk up on digital platforms. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 14 Aug. 2023 The two men came to blows, with the hulking intruder eventually leaving in the truck. Jake Offenhartz, Anchorage Daily News, 22 July 2023 From State Route 41 near Salisbury, hike northbound for 2.7 miles to tag Lion’s Head, then continue 3.3 miles to Bear’s summit and its views of steely Mount Greylock (Massachusetts’ highest) hulking on the horizon. The Editors, Outside Online, 15 Apr. 2019 As for Willis, this lean, unimposing, harmonica-playing David was suddenly haunting the hulking Goliaths who had ruled the 1980s. Clark Collis,, 25 May 2023 Capturing the culprit In the basement of the Upper West Side apartment building, two hulking 500-horsepower boilers rumble, burning natural gas and releasing carbon dioxide. Cathy Bussewitz, Fortune, 15 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hulk.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English hulke, from Old English hulc, probably from Medieval Latin holcas, from Greek holkas, from helkein to pull — more at sulcus

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1825, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hulk was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near hulk

Cite this Entry

“Hulk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a heavy clumsy ship
: the body of an old ship unfit for service or of an abandoned wreck
: a bulky or clumsy person or thing


2 of 2 verb
: to appear impressively large
factories hulking along the river

More from Merriam-Webster on hulk

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