\ 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 That gave the government an excuse to relax the inflation target on December 28th (a date on which Argentines traditionally play pranks on the unsuspecting). The Economist, "Were Mauricio Macri’s mainstream policies doomed from the start?," 14 Sep. 2019 Matthew Morrison, 44, who lived in a tent in the Crestview yard and went inside the home without permission, dismissed it as a prank, deputies said. Tiffini Theisen,, "Homeless Florida man tossed lit firecrackers under sleeping child’s bed as a ‘prank,’ deputies say," 7 July 2019 The prank prompted Michael to sprint off the stage. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'GMA' Star Michael Strahan Speaks Out After "Hurting Himself" From Sprinting Off Stage," 15 Aug. 2019 As the app nears one year old, TikToks have settled down from frantic pranks and challenges into calmer scenes depicting little slices of life. Dami Lee, The Verge, "TikTok turns one: its first 12 months, as told through TikToks," 2 Aug. 2019 Now several animal shelters are jumping on the viral prank by dressing up adoptable pets in makeshift alien costumes and asking the public to storm their shelters instead of the top-secret site. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Adoptable dogs dressed in alien costumes want you to storm their shelters, not Area 51," 22 July 2019 Doug Bear, the county’s public communications manager, said Friday that officials started getting reports about the prank calls on Thursday afternoon. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "No, your street name isn’t changing to Cannabis Way: Prank calls have Kitsap County abuzz," 3 June 2019 Kjellberg's content is mostly comprised of game plays and commentary, and his channel continues to grow despite past controversies over anti-Semitic pranks on his channel. Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, "YouTube star PewDiePie announces marriage to long-term girlfriend," 20 Aug. 2019 At Halloween, kids soaped her windows and littered her porch with corn (a prank popular among rural Midwestern youths). Tony Rehagen,, "A Holocaust survivor built a remarkable monument to hope and memory. Now that she’s gone, who will remind us?," 16 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for prank

Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for prank

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

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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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