\ ˈskəlk How to pronounce skulk (audio) \
skulked; skulking; skulks

Definition of skulk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move in a stealthy or furtive manner skulked into her sister's room
2a : to hide or conceal something (such as oneself) often out of cowardice or fear or with sinister intent
b chiefly British : malinger



Definition of skulk (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that skulks
2 : a group of foxes

Other Words from skulk


skulker noun

Synonyms for skulk

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Did you know?


Here's one for the word-puzzle lovers. Can you name three things that the word skulk has in common with all of these other words: booth, brink, cog, flit, give, kid, meek, scab, seem, skull and wing? If you noticed that all of the terms on that list have just one syllable, then you've got the first (easy) similarity, but the next two are likely to prove a little harder to guess. Do you give up? All of the words listed above are of Scandinavian origin and all were first recorded in English in the 13th century. As for "skulk," its closest known Scandinavian relative is the Norwegian dialect word skulka, which means "to lie in wait" or "lurk."

Examples of skulk in a Sentence

Verb A man was skulking around outside. She skulked into her sister's room. Noun around campus he was seen as a solitary skulk who seemed to be a little too interested in news reports of school shootings
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb So, the best way to offer support and assistance is to let her skulk off and hide in a corner? Star Tribune, 2 June 2021 The broadcaster obliged, was affable and didn't skulk through the gauntlet. Guy Martin, Forbes, 10 Mar. 2021 Moreover, disirregardless of what Jamie Lee asserts, irregardless did not skulk into the dictionary just this year. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Nov. 2020 Osama bin Laden skulked in caves and a nondescript house in Pakistan. The Economist, 21 May 2020 Harder to ignore are the creepy attentions of Lester (Clayton Hoff), who skulks around on the fringes of gatherings and leers at her through glasses with one lens mysteriously blackened. Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, 23 Apr. 2020 Someone skulked around Playland, the Cliff House and Sutro Baths. ... Gary Kamiya,, 17 Apr. 2020 But subsequent monitoring found the pan-resistant strain colonizing the patient, i.e., skulking around the patient's body without causing an infection. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 9 Jan. 2020 All the while, Hank and Aron skulk like shoes just waiting to drop. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, 12 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The park's tree-climbing lions often lie in wait on the branches of sycamores, while leopards skulk in the tall grasses. Gina Decaprio Vercesi, Travel + Leisure, 20 Mar. 2021 The household staple skulks in sinks amid dirty dishes and soggy food scraps, sopping up and amplifying microbial forces capable of invading clean food spaces. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 31 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'skulk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of skulk


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for skulk


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

Learn More About skulk

Time Traveler for skulk

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About skulk

Dictionary Entries Near skulk




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for skulk

Cite this Entry

“Skulk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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

More Definitions for skulk



English Language Learners Definition of skulk

: to move or hide in a secret way especially because you are planning to do something bad


\ ˈskəlk How to pronounce skulk (audio) \
skulked; skulking

Kids Definition of skulk

: to hide or move in a sly or sneaking way The thief skulked behind a fence.

More from Merriam-Webster on skulk

Nglish: Translation of skulk for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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