noun (1)
\ ˈshärk How to pronounce shark (audio) \

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


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


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

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Other Words from shark

Noun (1)

sharklike \ ˈshärk-​ˌlīk How to pronounce shark (audio) \ 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


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

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Time Traveler for shark

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near shark



shark's mouth

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Cite this Entry

“Shark.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for shark


\ ˈshärk How to pronounce shark (audio) \

Kids Definition of shark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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



Kids Definition of shark (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who cheats others out of money


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