\ ˈskəŋk How to pronounce skunk (audio) \
plural skunks also skunk

Definition of skunk

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : any of various common omnivorous black-and-white New World mammals (especially genus Mephitis) of the weasel family that have a pair of perineal glands from which a secretion of pungent and offensive odor is ejected
b : the fur of a skunk
2 : an obnoxious or disliked person


skunked; skunking; skunks

Definition of skunk (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : defeat
b : to prevent entirely from scoring or succeeding : shut out
2 : to fail to pay also : cheat


geographical name

Definition of Skunk (Entry 3 of 3)

river 264 miles (425 kilometers) long in southeastern Iowa flowing southeast into the Mississippi River

Illustration of skunk

Illustration of skunk


skunk 1a

In the meaning defined above

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Synonyms for skunk

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of skunk in a Sentence

Noun Her brother's a low-down, dirty skunk. he's nothing but a dirty, rotten skunk Verb we ended up skunking them, as our goalie was able to prevent the other team from scoring a single goal our football team consistently skunks our traditional rivals Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The source was traced to the homeowner’s dog, which had been sprayed by a skunk. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, "Firefighters fumed after locating origin of invisible odor in home: Moreland Hills Police Blotter," 3 Oct. 2020 Not one with rattles and no power and a CVT that howls like a vacuum cleaner being lifted up stairs and off-gassing plastic that smells like a skunk ate a bunch of eggs and then passed out in paint thinner. Elana Scherr, Car and Driver, "What's the Best Car for Creativity?," 26 Sep. 2020 Tomato juice doesn’t work well against skunk spray. Sandra Gutierrez G., Popular Science, "The five smells Americans hate most (and how to get rid of them)," 6 Sep. 2020 Driving down Route 14 in early July, Milwaukee County Transit System bus driver Bob Ervin spotted a skunk wandering along the grass median, its head held hostage by a yogurt cup. Asha Prihar, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A skunk got its head stuck in a yogurt cup. A Milwaukee County Transit driver paused his route to save it.," 7 Aug. 2020 Growing up in Forest Park, Nicolette Downey recalled the various pets the family housed: dogs, cats, snakes, a skunk without scent glands. Enquirer Staff,, "The pandemic's toll is real. Here are a few of those we've lost.," 11 June 2020 Eleven skunks and four bats in Oakland County were confirmed to have rabies this year. Omar Abdel-baqui, Detroit Free Press, "Pet cat tests positive for rabies in Birmingham," 15 Nov. 2019 Watch for a large earthen berm off to the left that contains a wildlife water tank that attracts dozens of species such as skunk, herons and bobcats. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "This forested hike south of Flagstaff has room to spread out. Here's how to try it.," 22 May 2020 The nearby Carr Creek State Park boasts mild wildlife including turkeys, raccoons and skunks. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "State Police: 13-year-old Kentucky boy died after animal attack in Knott County," 19 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The one or two seasons when I was skunked came on the heels of hard winters. Ben Long, Outdoor Life, "Finding a Middle Ground on Wolves and Wolf Management," 6 Mar. 2020 The Broncos go out in style by skunking the silver and black as Drew Lock throws four touchdowns. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos scouting report: How Denver matches up against the Raiders and predictions," 28 Dec. 2019 Georgia skunked Missouri 27-0 last week, but Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant didn’t play because of an injury. Joseph Goodman, al, "Ailing Alabama being doubted; Auburn needs some magic," 14 Nov. 2019 Getting skunked Such discoveries are becoming rarer, however, as hunters grapple with a problem: fewer relics in circulation. Daisy Maxey, WSJ, "Coin-Roll Hunting: The Secrets of a Treasure-Seeking Hobby," 6 May 2018 The parochial interests of members whose bases were on the chopping block consistently skunked the endeavor. Jay Cost, National Review, "Good Riddance to IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board," 12 Feb. 2018 Just like so many Mizzou fans did on Saturday at Memorial Stadium watching what is now Odom’s product get skunked 35-3 by Purdue. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "Debacle against Purdue cranks up heat on Mizzou coach Barry Odom — and it should," 16 Sep. 2017 Overcast and somewhat cool temperatures at Mandeville High School were John Curtis battled Covington for a 7-0 win and Riverside Academy skunked Mandeville 28-0. David Grunfeld,, "Get your mind off of Hurricane Harvey and check out the photos from the Mandeville prep football jamboree," 26 Aug. 2017 For someone who in the past felt lucky to find a few morels — and more than once had been skunked — this seemed nothing short of miraculous. Bill Sherwonit, Alaska Dispatch News, "Confessions of a morel hunter," 5 Aug. 2017

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

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First Known Use of skunk


1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for skunk


earlier squuncke, from a Massachusett reflex of Algonquian *šeka·kwa, from šek- urinate + -a·kw fox, fox-like animal

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Time Traveler for skunk

Time Traveler

The first known use of skunk was in 1634

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Statistics for skunk

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Skunk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for skunk


How to pronounce Skunk (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of skunk

: a small black-and-white North American animal that produces a very strong and unpleasant smell when it is frightened or in danger
US, informal : a very bad or unpleasant person


\ ˈskəŋk How to pronounce skunk (audio) \

Kids Definition of skunk

: a North American animal related to the weasels that has coarse black-and-white fur and can squirt out a fluid with a very unpleasant smell

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