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 air Richard 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

Example Sentences

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 Much danger continues to lurk in the market, though, so income-seeking investors need to be cautious, market professionals say. Michael A. Pollock, WSJ, 6 Nov. 2022 Other financial dangers also lurk for tourist-reliant Dubai, built on the promise of globalization. Jon Gambrell, ajc, 30 Oct. 2022 For subscribers:What secrets still lurk in Lake Mead? Shaun Mckinnon, The Arizona Republic, 28 Oct. 2022 So wash your hands and read on for some of the sneakier places where germs and biofilms — the technical term for slimy layers of bacterial colonies — often lurk. Susannah Herrada, Washington Post, 19 Oct. 2022 Even if hoarding of gas supplies has gone full thrust ahead and reliance on Russian provisions has dwindled to less than 10 percent, dangers still lurk. Raf Casertand And Samuel Petrequin, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Oct. 2022 With rare moments of dark comedy and irony, [Finn] is able to expose the forceful nature of society’s expectation to be happy and presentable despite the suffering that may lurk under one’s skin. Sonaiya Kelley, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2022 Wounded hearts might lurk beneath emotional walls today. Chicago Tribune, 11 Aug. 2022 William will lurk in the on-deck circle, the field around them populated with the world’s greatest players and the brothers possibly overwhelmed with a fact almost too good to be true. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 19 July 2022 See More

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

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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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