\ 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 Iqaqa laziqikaqika kwazw kwaqhawaka uqhoqhoqha (the skunk rolled down and ruptured its larynx). Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 Oct. 2021 Between the platinum skunk stripe and shag cut, this style feels like a perfect fit for Kehlani. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 8 Sep. 2021 The Plains spotted skunk already knows this struggle. Jill Langlois, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Sep. 2021 Earlier, Israeli police used stun grenades and a water cannon spraying skunk water to disperse Palestinian protesters from Damascus Gate in east Jerusalem, the epicenter of weeks of protests and clashes with police in the run-up to the Gaza war. Joseph Krauss, Star Tribune, 17 June 2021 The largest members of the weasel family, wolverines look like a combination of a skunk and bear and reach 40 pounds. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 8 July 2021 The right side is a jet black hue with a chunky white stripe near the ear, similar to a skunk's fur. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 27 July 2021 One summer, Speedie brought a pet skunk to training camp. Tom Withers, Star Tribune, 23 July 2021 Earlier, Israeli police used stun grenades and a water cannon spraying skunk water to disperse Palestinian protesters from Damascus Gate in east Jerusalem, the epicenter of weeks of protests and clashes in the run-up to the Gaza war. Joseph Krauss, Anchorage Daily News, 18 June 2021 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, 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, 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, 14 Nov. 2019 Getting skunked Such discoveries are becoming rarer, however, as hunters grapple with a problem: fewer relics in circulation. Daisy Maxey, WSJ, 6 May 2018 The parochial interests of members whose bases were on the chopping block consistently skunked the endeavor. Jay Cost, National Review, 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, 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,, 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, 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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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Skunk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for skunk



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
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on skunk

Nglish: Translation of skunk for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of skunk for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about skunk


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