\ 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

Synonyms for prank

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Police were told that the boy had pulled a prank on his parents that was not well received. cleveland, 19 Apr. 2022 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live pulled an April Fools’ prank on their viewers and in-studio audience as the two Jimmys hosted each other’s late-night show Friday. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 2 Apr. 2022 The television was still pretty new at that time, so viewers weren't suspecting their nightly news to play an April Fools' prank on them. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 23 Mar. 2022 The studio allegedly preferred the other actor, but that changed after Williams pulled a prank on Lawrence during an audition. Zack Sharf, Variety, 14 Mar. 2022 The pilot turned out to be a neighbor who had learned to fly and wanted to play a prank on the 18-year-old Halvorsen. Nate Carlisle, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Feb. 2022 The law change would combine elements of other existing laws that currently can apply to the prank, the name for which refers to a police SWAT team. cleveland, 16 Mar. 2022 Movie historians will note that the title Dementia 13 is a film-industry prank, borrowed from the exploitation-movie hucksterism made famous by William Castle. Armond White, National Review, 29 Sep. 2021 In a letter to families and students Monday afternoon, Muñoz said the vandalism appears to have started as a prank, which included throwing toilet paper on trees and writing on sidewalks. oregonlive, 25 May 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About prank

Time Traveler for prank

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near prank




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for prank

Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prank.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for prank


\ 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


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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