\ ˈpraŋk How to pronounce prank (audio) \

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

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Synonyms for prank

Synonyms: Noun

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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 For several years, Micah has played a prank called Splish Splash, which involves pouring a pot or bin of cold water, ice cubes and all, on someone who is asleep. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, 19 July 2021 Rudd's pulled the prank while promoting projects including This is 40, Friends, Anchorman 2, and Our Idiot Brother. Katie Campione,, 5 July 2021 During last Tuesday's audition episode, the head AGT judge orchestrated a truly terrifying prank on sophomore panelist Sofía Vergara that left the Modern Family star frightened. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, 29 June 2021 Rudd pulled this prank on O'Brien for the very first time during a 2004 appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, before the host started Conan. Nick Romano,, 22 June 2021 Abrams’ penchant for secrecy ended up getting the better of him when the young cast members decided to play a prank on him — one that may have taken a few years off his life. Josh Weiss, Forbes, 1 June 2021 Jill Biden played an April Fools' prank on members of the media on a flight back to Washington from California, dressing up as a flight attendant who passed out ice cream bars. NBC News, 2 Apr. 2021 Her parents danced to disco and cumbias at pool parties in their backyard and once, her mom played a prank on her dad by filling a piñata with eggs, oil and flour. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, 11 Mar. 2021 In 2007, the city paid $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit by Tennie Pierce, a Black firefighter who was fed dog food in a firehouse prank. Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near prank




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Statistics for prank

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prank.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for prank



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

More from Merriam-Webster on prank

Nglish: Translation of prank for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prank for Arabic Speakers


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