\ˈpraŋk \

Definition of prank 

(Entry 1 of 3)

: trick:

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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of prank in a Sentence


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

NBC News reported in 2009 that pranks and trivial matters accounted for almost half of the eight million calls placed to California’s 911 system. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Starbucks, Yale, and the Abuse of 911 Against Black Americans," 11 May 2018 Joe's played sports, musical instruments and pranks. Leslie Anne Tarabella,, "The recipe for making a man," 1 May 2018 Yet both have sunny personalities, a love for silly pranks and independent streaks. Laura Vozzella, Washington Post, "‘I love the guy,’ one Republican says about Gov. Ralph Northam (D). But will it help in Medicaid fight?," 6 Mar. 2018 Gone is all documentation of her iconic pranks, her beauty transformations, and, perhaps most devastating of all, her photos with Liam Hemsworth., "Why Did Miley Cyrus Delete Her Instagram Posts? Fans Have A Few Theories," 14 July 2018 Bayern Munich's number seven is also notorious for his childish pranks, and has been known to frequently pour beer over his teammates at the usual end of season title celebrations., "6 Players That Never Grew Up," 24 June 2018 In a Facebook post, the Cumberland Police Department also praised the boys for their prank. NBC News, "Police congratulate Wisconsin boys for creative senior prank," 16 May 2018 This year, not even Jimmy's own family was safe from his pranks. Katelyn Lunders, Country Living, "Jimmy Kimmel's Annual Halloween Candy Bit Will Have You Crying From Laughter," 3 Nov. 2017 From having séances at the local cemetery to pulling pranks on the neighborhood boys (Ew, boys!), this classic movie makes us more than a little nostalgic. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, "The Best Summer Movies of All Time," 12 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prank

Statistics for prank

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prank

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prank



English Language Learners Definition of prank

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


\ˈpraŋk \

Kids Definition of prank

: a mischievous act : practical joke

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on prank

What made you want to look up prank? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a generally accepted meaning of a word

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!