\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for skunk

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For taste and olfactory receptors in the mouth and nose, this cascade causes neurons to fire and enables us to recognize everything from the rich sweetness of a chocolate chip cookie to the nose-wrinkling stench of a passing skunk. Quanta Magazine, "Cells That ‘Taste’ Danger Set Off Immune Responses," 15 Nov. 2019 That the building is noisy and concrete and uninspirational would have been the skunk in the show’s progressive garden party. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "The Museums of Vermont," 5 Oct. 2019 So at construction sites there’s always a skunk at the bottom of a hole. Sarah Feldberg,, "@OfficerEdith is the patron saint of San Francisco animals," 16 Aug. 2019 Corden upped the ante by bringing on San Diego Zoo animal ambassador and zookeeper Rick Schwartz, who had some animal friends including a pair of alligators, a cougar and a skunk — the only animal that Ron truly fears. Dave Quinn,, "Ron Burgundy Is Back! Will Ferrell Reprises Iconic Anchorman Character on Every Late Night Show," 9 Aug. 2019 Statewide, far more bats are found infected with rabies than skunks. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Rabies cases double in Oakland County's wildlife; officials warn, 'Stay away!'," 8 Sep. 2018 As for the odor that gives skunks their celebrity, it is produced by glands. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Zoo’s skunk sisters mark five years in Washington," 15 Sep. 2019 More than 200 of the animals killed — including foxes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, swine, and a black bear — were unintentional targets of the cyanide bombs, according to the department. Mariel Padilla,, "Trump administration reauthorizes use of ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wild animals," 10 Aug. 2019 The Game and Fish Department defines predators as coyotes, bobcats, foxes and skunks. Andrew Howard, azcentral, "Arizona will ban hunting contests, which opponents call 'indiscriminate slaughter'," 5 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 EAGLE LAKE Fishing continues to be slow with most anglers getting skunked or picking up just one or two trout. sacbee, "Salmon season off to slow start, but there are signs of hope," 31 July 2017 Because skunk spray is an oil and Dawn removes oil from animals so well, Dawn is a good tool in your arsenal of pet de-skunking. 5. Emily Main, Fox News, "7 summer pet problems solved," 11 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about skunk

Time Traveler for skunk

Time Traveler

The first known use of skunk was in 1634

See more words from the same year

Statistics for skunk

Last Updated

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Skunk.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 8 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on skunk

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for skunk

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with skunk

Spanish Central: Translation of skunk

Nglish: Translation of skunk for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on skunk

What made you want to look up skunk? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to constrict the range or activity of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things 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!