\ 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 pluralevery 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 This is a relatable commercial: Working out next to the living hulk that is John Cena indeed would require beer afterwards. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Super Bowl Commercials 2020: The Best Celebrity Appearances," 2 Feb. 2020 As the locals’ recruiting rankings stall or drop, the Ducks continue to take players from underneath their out-of-joint nose, building that rare Pac-12 Conference team that could actually outmuscle a Big Ten Conference hulk. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Oregon wins Rose Bowl with players who should be on USC or UCLA," 1 Jan. 2020 Once-bustling shipyards are closed, though rusting hulks are reduced to scrap at a site just outside town. Washington Post, "Neglected heartland seen as key to Brexit-dominated election," 13 Nov. 2019 Ships don’t often call at Monrovia, the capital, a ghostly place littered with rusting hulks. The Economist, "Why do one in ten ships fly tiny Liberia’s flag?," 19 Oct. 2019 The rusting hulk of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge sullies the fine new views from the Reach and the noise from its traffic will plague events on the outdoor plaza. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "Does the Kennedy Center have a vision for its elegant but awkward new annex?," 30 Aug. 2019 An ugly beige hulk of a building with eight stories and enough jail cells for 1,538 inmates squats on prime waterfront in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Susannah Bryan,, "Time to free up prime waterfront spot now occupied by jail, experts say," 25 Oct. 2019 Michael Hopkins and Tommy Cash Cosman broadcast from the defunct Gerlach Hotel, a ramshackle hulk with dim lighting, leaky pipes and no heat or AC. Los Angeles Times, "He was ‘goofy and innocent and often annoying,’ but he inspired a tough town to celebrate eccentricities," 24 Sep. 2019 The grim industrial coast the bay shares with the Passaic River is lined with the hulks of old chemical plants that treated their surroundings like a toilet. Wired, "How Cities Reshape the Evolutionary Path of Urban Wildlife," 23 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And despite limited minutes, Sims was up to the task of battling hulking 7-foot senior Udoka Azubuike and sophomore forward David McCormack, going for eight points on 4-of-4 shooting. Nick Moyle,, "Texas squanders halftime lead in another loss to Kansas," 3 Feb. 2020 Opened in 1967, the hulking seven-story building houses classrooms, labs and offices for biology, chemistry, environmental science, physics, electron microscopy and nanofabrication. Betsy Hammond, oregonlive, "Local tech entrepreneurs give Portland State $4.5 million to kickstart upgrades to aging science building," 29 Jan. 2020 Their outdoor counterparts, on the other hand, seem to have dropped the ball—technology has improved, but the design tends to stick to hulking stainless steel grills, retro backyard cookers, and unsightly pig boxes. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, "This Outdoor Stove Is a Cooktop, Grill, Pizza Oven, and Fire Pit in One," 1 Jan. 2020 Of all the plants the DEQ regulates, Exxon Mobil’s hulking refinery and chemical manufacturing campus in Baton Rouge may be the hardest for the agency to look past. Gordon Russell, ProPublica, "In “Cancer Alley,” Toxic Polluters Face Little Oversight From Environmental Regulators," 19 Dec. 2019 There are hulking, green machines with paint stripped down to their silvery innards where decades of workers have laid their hands while using them. Mike Murphy, Quartz, "Fender is reinventing itself for the future of music while holding onto its past," 13 Dec. 2019 Momoa managed to be hulking and intimidating while also proving that the DC universe didn’t have to be universally dark anymore — there’s room to have fun and smile. David Betancourt, Washington Post, "From Iron Man to one of the Watchmen, here are the 11 superheroes who defined the decade onscreen," 26 Nov. 2019 Turkeys — often hulking specimens, hard to cook, rather bland — are not native to many countries around the world. Tim Carman, Washington Post, "How 7 immigrant families transform the Thanksgiving turkey with the flavors of their homelands," 22 Nov. 2019 To some, the six-story Hurley building is a hulking reminder of the urban renewal that swept away entire blocks of the city decades ago; bring on the bulldozers., "adorn the lobby walls.," 11 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for hulk

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hulk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for hulk


How to pronounce hulk (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on hulk

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hulk

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hulk

Spanish Central: Translation of hulk

Nglish: Translation of hulk for Spanish Speakers

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