puck·​ish ˈpə-kish How to pronounce puckish (audio)
puckishly adverb
puckishness noun

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We know Puck as "that merry wanderer of the night," the shape-changing, maiden-frightening, mischief-sowing henchman to the king of the fairies in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Bard drew on English folklore in casting his character, but the traditional Puck was more malicious than the Shakespearean imp; he was an evil spirit or demon. In medieval England, this nasty hobgoblin was known as the puke or pouke, names related to the Old Norse pūki, meaning "devil." (There is no connection to modern English puke.) But it was the Bard's characterization that stuck, and by the time the adjective puckish started appearing regularly in English texts in the 1800s the association was one of impishness, not evil.

Examples of puckish in a Sentence

He had a puckish smile on his face. he takes a puckish delight in teasing her about her love life, or lack thereof
Recent Examples on the Web Alongside his outsize entrepreneurial ventures—Tesla and SpaceX, among them—there is his public persona: charming, puckish, combative, mercurial. Arthur Herman, WSJ, 11 Sep. 2023 Ranked:The 75 best 'Star Wars' characters Bordizzo, on the other hand, is the highlight of the show as the puckish Sabine, whose personality pops off the screen. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 23 Aug. 2023 Dano’s performance, abounding in nervous energy and revelling in puckish mannerisms, suggests a depth that’s absent from anything in the script. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 12 Sep. 2023 The latter returns for a second season with the puckish Tom Hiddleston in the title role. Nina Metz, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Sep. 2023 Spielberg brings a puckish enthusiasm to all of Crystal Skull, even its maddening bits of telepathic monkey mischief and alien-vessel silliness. A.a. Dowd, Vulture, 3 July 2023 But his lines have softened with age; his manner has grown puckish and approachable. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2023 Fassbinder, Derek Jarman, and Almodóvar never went so far, but puckish Rodrigues goes beyond even his compatriot, cinema’s ultra-serious artiste Pedro Costa — the Rembrandt of Lisbon’s ghetto — who specializes in European racial and cultural guilt. Armond White, National Review, 31 May 2023 But their puckish, low-stakes experiment took off with more outdoor readings and a glossy print publication: Forever Magazine. Mariella Rudi, Los Angeles Times, 16 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'puckish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


puck entry 2

First Known Use

1831, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of puckish was in 1831


Dictionary Entries Near puckish

Cite this Entry

“Puckish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puckish. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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