1 of 2


plural skunks also skunk
: 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
: the fur of a skunk
: an obnoxious or disliked person

Illustration of skunk

Illustration of skunk
  • skunk 1a


2 of 2


skunked; skunking; skunks

transitive verb

: defeat
: to prevent entirely from scoring or succeeding : shut out
: to fail to pay
also : cheat

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Sky Island Alliance cameras have detected a wide variety of wildlife on the border, including black bears, coatis, ringtails, porcupines, possums, three types of deer including the Coues subspecies, and four skunk species. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic, 1 Dec. 2022 Meantime, the paradox in progressive attitudes toward marijuana continues to grow like skunk weed. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 21 Nov. 2022 Sometimes that meant being the skunk at the garden party ... Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 27 July 2022 Further decomposition emits mercaptans, which are sulfur-containing molecules found in skunk spray, rotting meat and other obnoxious things. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, 18 July 2022 Among recreational users, cannabis varieties that are skunk-forward are among the most popular formulations, making recipes that favor a skunky aroma valuable to cannabis companies. Madeline Bodin, Discover Magazine, 29 Jan. 2021 No skunk weed — that foul, noxious pot that pervades Gotham’s air. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 16 Nov. 2022 Security personnel spent part of the second half trying to capture a skunk, which was on the loose inside the stadium. Tom Withers, ajc, 27 Nov. 2022 Videos and pictures of a real, live skunk in the stands began to make the rounds during the first half of Cleveland’s thrilling 23-17 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ashley Bastock, cleveland, 27 Nov. 2022
The presence of a sulfur atom in place of an oxygen atom contributes to the aromatic bouquet that gives odors like skunk a characteristic aroma. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 16 Oct. 2022 This product is made with protein deodorizers that remove odors, even skunk smell! The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Oct. 2022 Some include the tropical yam, balsam pear, skunk vine, Virginia creeper and wild grape. Tom Maccubbin, Orlando Sentinel, 17 Sep. 2022 From the long, layered butterfly haircut to edgy skunk stripe hair, TikTok hair trends are everywhere—and likely will be for a while. Danielle Sinay, Glamour, 17 Aug. 2022 Despite its cheeky name, skunk stripe hair has little to do with Pepé Le Pew. Danielle Sinay, Glamour, 27 July 2022 Jacobson, an officer with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office in Rochester, found a baby skunk on the road that appeared to be dehydrated. USA TODAY, 22 June 2022 Javelinas are also known as peccaries or skunk pigs. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, 11 Apr. 2022 The federation says the rare animal also has a colorful array of nicknames, including woods devil, Indian devil, nasty cat and skunk bear. Stephen Smith, CBS News, 16 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of skunk was in 1634

Dictionary Entries Near skunk

Cite this Entry

“Skunk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
plural skunks also skunk
: any of various black-and-white North American mammals related to the weasels that give off a fluid with a sharp and unpleasant smell when threatened
: a mean hateful person


2 of 2 verb
: to defeat completely
especially : to prevent entirely from scoring or succeeding : shut out

Geographical Definition


geographical name

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

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