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skulked; skulking; skulks

intransitive verb

: to move in a stealthy or furtive manner
skulked into her sister's room
: to hide or conceal something (such as oneself) often out of cowardice or fear or with sinister intent
chiefly British : malinger
skulker noun


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: one that skulks
: a group of foxes

Did you know?

Here's one for the word-puzzle lovers. Name three qualities that the word skulk shares with each of the following words: booth, brink, cog, flit, kid, meek, scab, seem, and skull. If you noticed that all of the terms on that list have just one syllable, then you've got the first, and easiest, similarity. The next two require some special knowledge: all of the words are of Scandinavian origin and all were first recorded in English in the 13th century. As for skulk specifically, its closest known Scandinavian relative is the Norwegian dialect word skulka, which means “to lie in wait” or “to lurk.” Skulk is also used—though less often—as a noun, referring either to “one that skulks” or to a group of foxes, animals often held to be furtively lurking around.

Choose the Right Synonym for skulk

lurk, skulk, slink, sneak mean to behave so as to escape attention.

lurk implies a lying in wait in a place of concealment and often suggests an evil intent.

suspicious men lurking in alleyways

skulk suggests more strongly cowardice or fear or sinister intent.

something skulking in the shadows

slink implies moving stealthily often merely to escape attention.

slunk around the corner

sneak may add an implication of entering or leaving a place or evading a difficulty by furtive or underhanded methods.

sneaked out early

Examples of skulk in a Sentence

Verb A man was skulking around outside. She skulked into her sister's room. Noun the animal control officers caught the stray cat that had been skulking behind some trash cans
Recent Examples on the Web
Her initial attempts to divest herself of Sunny entwine with her desire to learn just who her husband was; there will be skulking and unpleasant if incomplete discoveries. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 10 July 2024 Except that those kids didn’t skulk around on AlphaBay. Paul Solotaroff, Rolling Stone, 17 June 2024 Nevertheless, Laura’s main occupation is sulking and skulking in shadows, being mad, and throwing vegetables. Jason P. Frank, Vulture, 28 Feb. 2024 As a bored kid in Leningrad in the 1960s and 1970s, Putin skulked at the back of classrooms but was energized in his free time by his pursuit of judo. Fiona Hill, Foreign Affairs, 11 Sep. 2013 See all Example Sentences for skulk 

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

Word History



Middle English, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect skulka to lie in wait, lurk

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of skulk was in the 13th century


Dictionary Entries Near skulk

Cite this Entry

“Skulk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to move in a sly or secret manner : sneak
: to hide or conceal oneself from cowardice or fear or with treacherous intention
skulker noun

More from Merriam-Webster on skulk

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