\ ˈpraŋk How to pronounce prank (audio) \

Definition of prank

 (Entry 1 of 3)

a obsolete : a malicious act
b : a mildly mischievous act
c : a ludicrous act


verb (1)
pranked; pranking

Definition of prank (Entry 2 of 3)

1 transitive : to play a trick or prank on (someone) … you feel shock, dismay, then anger as it dawns on you that you've been pranked— Lucius Shepard On the day of the ceremony, a stuntwoman pal, dressed to look like Swanson, kicked things off by pranking the audience and falling down a flight of stairs. (The crowd went from gasping to laughing once the ruse was revealed.)— Lorenzo Benet
2 intransitive, obsolete : to play tricks or pranks


verb (2)
pranked; pranking; pranks

Definition of prank (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to show oneself off

transitive verb

: to dress or adorn gaily or showily

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Examples of prank in a Sentence

Noun He enjoys playing pranks on his friends. as a prank, several students managed to change all the classroom clocks to different times
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The legend, which was debunked by Snopes in October 2017 and PolitiFact in September 2019, is an evolved rendition of a 2017 Halloween prank. Devon Link, USA TODAY, "Fact check: No, Freddy Krueger was not a real 19th century serial killer," 12 July 2020 TikTok users claimed to register for potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets ahead of Mr. Trump's Tulsa campaign rally as a prank. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump campaign insists weather caused rally to be postponed," 10 July 2020 The 48-year-old actor of Borat and Ali G fame was sued for defamation by former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in 2018 over a prank that took place on the show. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "Rudy Giuliani called police after Sacha Baron Cohen shows up for prank interview in drag," 9 July 2020 In the high school romp, Brown's character is an over-achieving student who gets into almost all the Ivy Leagues, then accidentally blows up the school—and thus his life's trajectory—during a prank gone wrong. Gillian Telling,, "Jerry O'Connell, Eli Brown Talk Netflix's The F**k-It List and Their Feelings About Social Media," 9 July 2020 Their ploy involved a very convincing double, a getaway driver, and the most incredible plan for a prank that unfortunately didn't pan out. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "Find out how Amy Schumer dodges paparazzi in Expecting Amy sneak peek," 7 July 2020 But by the end, the event appeared to have been sabotaged by an elaborate prank that gained widespread internet attention over the weekend. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "A right-wing group got pranked at a rally, and they believe Sacha Baron Cohen is behind it," 29 June 2020 On that front, a simple rule: Just don’t touch anyone else’s stuff, which is good news for rookies who no longer can get hazed by the ol’ hot-foot prank. John Shea,, "No Buster hugs or sharing doughnuts: 20 odd protocols for baseball in 2020," 24 June 2020 The prank may have helped lead the Trump campaign to boast about more than a million people seeking tickets for the rally — while only about 6,200 ended up filling seats. Jason Silverstein, CBS News, "How TikTok users trolled the Trump campaign into expecting a Tulsa rally crowd that never came," 22 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prank.' 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 prank


circa 1529, in the meaning defined above

Verb (1)

circa 1530, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for prank


obsolete prank to play tricks

Verb (2)

probably from Dutch pronken to strut; akin to Middle High German gebrunkel glitter of metal

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Time Traveler for prank

Time Traveler

The first known use of prank was in the 15th century

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Statistics for prank

Last Updated

22 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prank.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for prank


How to pronounce prank (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prank

: a trick that is done to someone usually as a joke


\ ˈpraŋk How to pronounce prank (audio) \

Kids Definition of prank

: a mischievous act : practical joke

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More from Merriam-Webster on prank

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prank

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prank

Spanish Central: Translation of prank

Nglish: Translation of prank for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prank for Arabic Speakers

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