\ ˈhəlk How to pronounce hulk (audio) \

Definition of hulk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a heavy clumsy ship
b(1) : the body of an old ship unfit for service
(2) : a ship used as a prison usually used in plural every prisoner sent to the hulks— Kenneth Roberts
c : an abandoned wreck or shell (as of a building or automobile)
2 : one that is bulky or unwieldy


hulked; hulking; hulks

Definition of hulk (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

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

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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: Noun In 1981, tugs towed K-27 into the Kara and scuttled the hulk, sending everything—fuel, reactors, and other waste—to the bottom. Cory Graff, Popular Mechanics, "The Terrifying History of Russia’s Nuclear Submarine Graveyard," 17 Jan. 2021 Its readings are crucial to forming the detailed model of where sea level lies beneath Everest’s hulk of rock (satellite readings alone are not sufficient to calculate height above sea level). Washington Post, "It’s official: Mount Everest just got a little bit higher," 8 Dec. 2020 His initial plan is to demonstrate it using his ever-present silent hulk of an assistant, Chopsley (played by Tommy George). Dominic Massa,, "Spirit of Dr. Morgus to ride again with vintage broadcast of restored film on Halloween," 26 Oct. 2020 A dozen years ago, she was drawn by a view of the decaying, flooded hulk of the 18th-century Church of the Nativity, once the pride of the village of Krokhino, which now lies beneath the waters of Lake Beloye in northwestern Russia. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Russia’s peasant history, once submerged, is brought back into the light," 21 Aug. 2020 Uranium, one of the heaviest elements that occurs naturally, is a lumbering hulk. Catherine Cusick, Longreads, "8 Longreads by Will Storr on the Science of Storytelling," 10 Aug. 2020 Behind the shade tree where Kristang men gather is the empty hulk of a building that was originally conceived of as the Lisbon Hotel. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "500 Years Ago, This Port Linked East to West. Its Fate Was to Fade Away.," 11 Apr. 2020 The images showed up on Tencent’s microblog and show a rusty, unfinished hulk. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "A Dramatic Before-and-After Look at China's First Aircraft Carrier," 3 Jan. 2020 The hulk of the ship could be seen for more than a year, serving as a grim reminder of the disaster. Kathleen Pender,, "Coronavirus cancellations leave cruise industry scrambling," 11 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the city of Midgar, Cloud, an ex-military mercenary with one hulking sword, is enlisted by eco-terrorist group Avalanche to take down a Shinra reactor, setting him on a path to reunite with Sephiroth, a figure from his past thought to be dead. Nick Romano,, "Final Fantasy VII bosses on transcending the videogame remake trend," 23 Apr. 2020 Giving the lie to the notion that indoor grills just don't match up to their large, hulking outdoor counterparts, the Breville Smart Grill is a powerhouse. Popular Science, "Four electric grills that bring the barbecue inside," 10 Apr. 2020 The idea is that in a war with China, America’s hulking aircraft carriers might be pushed far out to sea by the threat of missiles. The Economist, "Send the Marines," 31 Mar. 2020 So, instead of having one giant, hulking cabinet containing both, Stoffer designed two elegant, slender columns across the room from each other to house the family's GE Monogram fridge and freezer. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "A Designer Makes the Case for Separating Your Fridge and Freezer," 18 Mar. 2020 The plan was to stay one night at a pretty country-estate hotel surrounded by seemingly endless fields of tall grass and hulking majestic trees that looked more like hyperrealistic drawings. Candice Rainey, Condé Nast Traveler, "I Hate Traveling Solo—And I’m Totally Okay With That," 15 Jan. 2020 At Crunch on West 23rd Street, there were hulking men spotted through the windows. Jacob Bernstein, New York Times, "The Last Workout," 17 Mar. 2020 The upcoming GMC Hummer pickup hulked in one corner of the dome and the Cadillac Lyriq, a futuristic SUV, shown across the aisle. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "GM unveils 10 future EVs, new batteries and its plan to beat Tesla," 4 Mar. 2020 Offensive lineman Justin Stevens — a freshman early enrollee from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia — posted a video to Twitter of himself lifting four massive tires with his hulking 6-foot-5, 292-pound frame. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football players find out brothers come in handy in workouts," 30 Mar. 2020

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

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First Known Use of hulk


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


circa 1825, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hulk


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

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Time Traveler for hulk

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

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Cite this Entry

“Hulk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for hulk



English Language Learners Definition of hulk

: the main part of something (such as a ship, car, or building) that has been ruined and is no longer used
informal : a large person


\ ˈhəlk How to pronounce hulk (audio) \

Kids Definition of hulk

1 : a person or thing that is bulky or clumsy
2 : an abandoned wreck or shell of something (as a ship)

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