lurked; lurking; lurks

intransitive verb

: to lie in wait in a place of concealment especially for an evil purpose
someone out there lurking in the shadows
: to move furtively or inconspicuously
shall I lurk about this country like a thief?Henry Fielding
: to persist in staying
the excitement of the first act still lurking in the airRichard Fletcher
Something about the smile lurking on Malfoy's face during the next week made Harry, Ron, and Hermione very nervous.J. K. Rowling
: to be concealed but capable of being discovered
specifically : to constitute a latent threat
What evil lurks in the hearts of men?
: to lie hidden
Malaria lurked in the marshes.
: to read messages without contributing on an Internet discussion forum (see forum sense 1c) (such as a newsgroup or chat room) or social media platform (such as Facebook or Twitter)
You can tweet as much as you want or lurk without comment, though consistent tweeting and audience engagement are key to attracting and keeping followers.Charlotte Abbott
Choose the Right Synonym for lurk

lurk, skulk, slink, sneak mean to behave so as to escape attention.

lurk implies a lying in wait in a place of concealment and often suggests an evil intent.

suspicious men lurking in alleyways

skulk suggests more strongly cowardice or fear or sinister intent.

something skulking in the shadows

slink implies moving stealthily often merely to escape attention.

slunk around the corner

sneak may add an implication of entering or leaving a place or evading a difficulty by furtive or underhanded methods.

sneaked out early

Examples of lurk in a Sentence

She could tell there was someone out there lurking in the shadows. we caught a glimpse of someone lurking around the corner
Recent Examples on the Web This, unfortunately, is the reality today, where hackers lurk. Moran Zavdi, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 That core identity is lurking somewhere in the background, but it’s been embellished with notes of fruit and pear, along with a little menthol, cinnamon, and anise. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 11 Feb. 2024 Dangers may lurk within the ingredients of some dietary supplements. Emily Hemendinger, Discover Magazine, 10 Feb. 2024 While blatant sabotage explains the current immigration impasse, however, there’s something else lurking behind it: Trump and those around him are profoundly hostile to immigration in general. Paul Krugman, The Mercury News, 8 Feb. 2024 By the mid-2000s, when Cassini saw—and sampled—telltale plumes of seawater gushing from the south pole of Enceladus, a paradigm shift was clearly at hand: oceans were lurking practically everywhere scientists looked in the outer solar system. Robin George Andrews, Scientific American, 7 Feb. 2024 For all its fizzing energy, this is a sorrowful film — sorry for the girls, sorry for the guys — keyed into the sadness that lurks in day-glo places, pool parties, dance podiums and the overlit cosmetics aisle of an airport duty-free shop. Jessica Kiang, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 Bandits, rapists, and kidnappers lurked on board, scoping out potential victims. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 28 Jan. 2024 In the novel, a Czech astrophysicist named Jakub Procházka accepts a solo mission to collect samples from a strange dust cloud called Chopra, believed to have been created by a comet lurking between the Earth and Venus. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 16 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lurk.' 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; akin to Middle High German lūren to lie in wait — more at lower

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lurk was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near lurk

Cite this Entry

“Lurk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to stay in or about a place secretly
: to move quietly and secretly
: to lie concealed
especially : to be a hidden threat
lurker noun

More from Merriam-Webster on lurk

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