1 of 3


: trick:
obsolete : a malicious act
: a mildly mischievous act
: a ludicrous act


2 of 3

verb (1)

pranked; pranking
transitive : to play a trick or prank on (someone)
… you feel shock, dismay, then anger as it dawns on you that you've been prankedLucius Shepard
On the day of the ceremony, a stuntwoman pal, dressed to look like Swanson, kicked things off by pranking the audience and falling down a flight of stairs. (The crowd went from gasping to laughing once the ruse was revealed.)Lorenzo Benet
intransitive, obsolete : to play tricks or pranks


3 of 3

verb (2)

pranked; pranking; pranks

intransitive verb

: to show oneself off

transitive verb

: to dress or adorn gaily or showily

Examples of prank in a Sentence

Noun He enjoys playing pranks on his friends. as a prank, several students managed to change all the classroom clocks to different times
Recent Examples on the Web
Last week, the girls learned that the alien invasion was indeed a prank. Mark Heim |, al, 7 Sep. 2023 And maybe some parts of Thank You Very Much really are just pranks, executed with a very straight face by Braverman. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Aug. 2023 Amongst some of the most infamous incidents were one in which Franke refused to bring food to school for her 6-year-old daughter, who had forgotten to pack her own lunch, and another in which one of their sons said he was being forced to sleep on a beanbag after playing pranks on his brothers. Mary Walrath-Holdridge, USA TODAY, 31 Aug. 2023 As the officer returns to his car to process the ID, the duo continues their sale prank. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 23 Aug. 2023 After suffering through a horrible prank on her birthday, Jenna makes a birthday wish—to grow up. Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal, Parents, 7 Aug. 2023 As a part of his education, someone, as a prank on me, began teaching him common phrases that had plagued my youth. The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Sep. 2023 In recent years, other TikTok trends have shown adults pulling pranks on their children, including pretending to smear poop on their kids or throwing cheese on their baby’s face. Victoria Bisset, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Aug. 2023 While parents partaking in the prank likely see it as lighthearted fun, some TikTok users also expressed concern that the children are being hurt or humiliated. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 23 Aug. 2023
In another, a father who gained a following for pranking his children urged his son to slap his daughter, leaving the girl crying. Fortesa Latifi, Washington Post, 6 Sep. 2023 Some viral videos from earlier this month showed adults pranking other adults with the egg trend, one of which has more than 14 million views. Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, 22 Aug. 2023 Waymo has called the traffic cone pranks vandalism. Yiwen Lu, New York Times, 9 Aug. 2023 Plus, some sneaky stuff the actor used to prank his guests. Pamela Wright,, 4 Aug. 2023 On Thursday, a player decided to prank The Portal, a gaming blog that uses AI to pump out articles about World of Warcraft and other games. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 21 July 2023 Ray says the group would prank Warhol by dangling a blaring radio on a rope outside the artist’s window. Carolina A. Miranda, Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2023 Enjoy the day by pranking – or being pranked – and take a look back at Cincinnati's April Fools' Day jokes over the years. Victoria Moorwood, The Enquirer, 1 Apr. 2023 The movie then slows down to give a shattered Fabietto room to experience everything around him anew, which is when his interest in cinema becomes more than watching his wannabe-actor brother audition for Fellini’s new film, or his mother invoke Franco Zeffirelli to prank a haughty neighbor. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prank.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



obsolete prank to play tricks

Verb (2)

probably from Dutch pronken to strut; akin to Middle High German gebrunkel glitter of metal

First Known Use


circa 1529, in the meaning defined above

Verb (1)

circa 1530, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of prank was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near prank

Cite this Entry

“Prank.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a playful or mischievous act : trick
prankishness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on prank

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