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: trick:
obsolete : a malicious act
: a mildly mischievous act
: a ludicrous act


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verb (1)

pranked; pranking
transitive : to play a trick or prank on (someone)
… you feel shock, dismay, then anger as it dawns on you that you've been prankedLucius 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
intransitive obsolete : to play tricks or pranks


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verb (2)

pranked; pranking; pranks

intransitive verb

: to show oneself off

transitive verb

: to dress or adorn gaily or showily

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
The Smosh stars seemingly confirmed their union on social media Monday, but some of their fans weren’t sure if the YouTube comedians were for real or pulling an elaborate April Fools’ Day prank. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 3 Apr. 2024 At one point, the first woman to run a major Wall Street bank asked her top executives to sign waivers to go skydiving as part of a prank. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2024 The show’s contestants were the first to be fooled during the pre-taping of Monday night’s episode, and audiences watching from home were the final targets of the prank. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 2 Apr. 2024 Already ahead of April Fools' Day, 7-Eleven has hinted at a possible prank product: In addition to new Lemon Lime, Green Apple and Sweet Orange flavored 7-Select sparkling waters, out now with partner Miracle Seltzer, there's a fourth flavor coming April 1: Big Bite Hot Dog. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 1 Apr. 2024 Although many people love to get their pranks and jokes in on April Fools’ Day, perhaps no one is more ready than corporations — and their social media managers. William Gavin, Quartz, 1 Apr. 2024 April Fools' Day embodies the spirit of pranks, so in honor of the holiday, Valley 101 explored how a prank orchestrated by Arizona State University students went viral in 2015. Katrina Michalak, The Arizona Republic, 1 Apr. 2024 Even more surprising than the April Fools' Day prank was not all commenters thought the flavor was a bad idea. The Enquirer, 1 Apr. 2024 The social media evidence included a 2018 Facebook comment Travis McMichael made on a video of Black man playing a prank on a white person. CBS News, 27 Mar. 2024
But the modern-day April Fools' Day has become a day to prank a friend, family member, co-worker − or your customers. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 1 Apr. 2024 Most requests tend to be from a younger crowd and their parents, but the captain encourages passengers of all ages to visit him and his co-pilot in the cockpit after landing, even the skeptical crowd who fear they may be pranked. Rachel Ventresca, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 The story begins with a cranky new coworker whom Breuer wanted to prank by pretending to be Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on a phone call. Wesley Stenzel,, 4 Jan. 2024 The Franke parents were criticized online for certain parenting decisions, including for banning their oldest son from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his younger brother. Hannah Schoenbaum, Fortune, 21 Feb. 2024 In September, Haines revealed that she too was pranked by various members of The View family, after her penchant for having multiple mugs of liquid in front of her at the Hot Topics table became a fan-favorite meme. Joey Nolfi,, 5 Jan. 2024 The Game of Thrones creators would prank him In an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, the actor revealed that Game of Thrones creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff tried to prank him with a fake script during season 2. Emma Kershaw, Peoplemag, 20 Jan. 2024 Among those pranking him is James Marsden, who plays a not-quite-real version of himself and buddies up to Gladden as the two of them are chosen to serve on a jury. Jennifer M. Wood, WIRED, 29 Dec. 2023 The Franke family was criticized for their parenting decisions, including banning their oldest son from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his younger brother. CBS News, 17 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prank.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



obsolete prank to play tricks

Verb (2)

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

First Known Use


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near prank

Cite this Entry

“Prank.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a playful or mischievous act : trick
prankishness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on prank

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