shark

noun (1)
\ˈshärk \

Definition of shark 

(Entry 1 of 3)

: any of numerous mostly marine cartilaginous fishes of medium to large size that have a fusiform body, lateral branchial clefts, and a tough usually dull gray skin roughened by minute tubercles and are typically active predators sometimes dangerous to humans

shark

noun (2)

Definition of shark (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a rapacious crafty person who takes advantage of others often through usury, extortion, or devious means loan sharks

2 : one who excels greatly especially in a particular field

shark

verb
sharked; sharking; sharks

Definition of shark (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 archaic : to gather hastily

2 archaic : to obtain by some irregular means

intransitive verb

1 archaic : to practice fraud or trickery

2 archaic : sneak

Illustration of shark

Illustration of shark

Noun (1)

shark: 1 mako, 2 tiger, 3 thresher, 4 hammerhead, 5 great white

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shark

Noun (1)

sharklike \ˈshärk-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Where did jump the shark come from?

Noun (1)

When something jumps the shark it undergoes a significant change for the worse and is on a new trajectory of unrecoverable decline. The happy days of its golden age are over.

The origin of the phrase jump the shark is tucked neatly in that previous sentence: it comes from a 1977 episode of the American TV series “Happy Days” (1974–1984) in which the program's most popular character, Fonzie, jumps over a shark while waterskiing in his trademark leather jacket. Some years later that episode came to be widely identified as marking the beginning of the iconic show's decline, and its plot device became a metaphor for similar transformations:

Nearly all TV shows ever produced have jumped the shark eventually. Such is the nature of television's creative conundrum.
— Monica Collins, Boston Herald, 9 Jan. 2000

Most TV series take three seasons to jump the shark, but in the theater it can happen in 20 minutes …
— Bob Verini, Daily Variety, 18 Sept. 2009

But in its headlong embrace of capitalism and corporate tie-ins, “Sex and the City” may have finally jumped the shark.
— Laura Compton, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 May 2010

The phrase is no longer limited to contexts involving entertainment; anything that undergoes a significant change for the worse that marks the start of a period of decline can be said to have "jumped the shark":

Not everyone agrees when Picasso's art jumped the shark.
— Jeffry Cudlin, Washington Post, 27 Feb. 2011

Silicon Valley has “jumped the shark” and lacks innovation, venture capitalist Peter Thiel says.
— Mike Murphy, MarketWatch, 1 Nov. 2018

First Known Use of shark

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1602, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for shark

Noun (1)

Middle English

Noun (2)

probably modification of German Schurke scoundrel

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shark

Statistics for shark

Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shark

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shark

shark

noun
\ˈshärk \

Kids Definition of shark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a large usually gray saltwater fish that has sharp teeth and a skeleton of cartilage

shark

noun

Kids Definition of shark (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who cheats others out of money

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shark

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shark

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shark

Spanish Central: Translation of shark

Nglish: Translation of shark for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shark for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about shark

Comments on shark

What made you want to look up shark? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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