\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for prank

Synonyms: Noun

antic, caper, capriccio, dido, escapade, frolic, gag, jest, knavery, monkeyshine(s), practical joke, rag [chiefly British], roguery, shavie [Scottish], shine(s), trick, waggery

Visit the Thesaurus 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

Media: Rika Achord Weinrich Rika Achord Weinrich, a Kingwood resident, said this is not the first time the soapy fountain prank has occurred. Kaila Contreras, Houston Chronicle, "Kingwood was a bit 'bubbly' this Monday morning," 1 July 2019 Initially, most of the calls — 2,150 out of 3,351 — were unrelated, generally pranks. Colleen Long, The Seattle Times, "Trump immigrant crime hotline still faces hurdles, pushback," 5 Feb. 2019 That’s to say nothing of the company’s annual April Fool’s Day prank products, outrageous stunts that no rational company would devote a ton of energy and resources to undertake, even when everyone is in on the joke. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, " is shutting down and that’s a damn shame," 14 June 2019 Katy, Luke, and Lionel were stunned at the big reveal, and the viewers at home couldn’t get enough of her prank. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'American Idol' Winner Maddie Poppe Is Unrecognizable in the New Season," 24 Mar. 2019 The duo includes the Todd Kraines Velvet Liquid Lipstick, a subtle pink-nude shade named after an infamous prank call between Kris and Scott Disick. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Kylie Jenner Dropped a Kris Jenner Makeup Collection Just in Time for Mother's Day," 23 Apr. 2019 There's crazy fights, broken lamps, and the occasional prank. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "All the Songs in "Riverdale"'s "Heathers: The Musical" Episode," 20 Mar. 2019 Bam and Ryan Dunn were stars of MTV’s long running prank TV show Jackass – which ran from 2000 to 2002 and spawned three big screen adventures. Fox News, "Hulk Hogan confuses dead 'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn with living Bam Margera in Twitter post," 29 May 2018 Senior pranks are a rite of passage for many high school students across America. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Police praise students for one of the "best senior pranks" they've seen," 15 May 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

7 Jul 2019

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 How to pronounce prank (audio) \

Kids Definition of prank

: a mischievous act : practical joke

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on prank

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prank

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prank

Spanish Central: Translation of prank

Nglish: Translation of prank for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prank for Arabic Speakers

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).


providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

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

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!