Share this entry

Share this page


Line breaks: punk
Pronunciation: /pʌŋk

Definition of punk in English:


1 (also punk rock) [mass noun] A loud, fast-moving, and aggressive form of rock music, popular in the late 1970s: punk had turned pop music and its attendant culture on its head
More example sentences
  • The breakthrough of punk internationally put rock music and popular culture back in the hands of fans and amateurs.
  • From death metal to violins and Jewish harps, folk music, punk, soul, reggae and gospel, we've got it all.
  • He gave early exposure to forms of music such as punk, reggae and hip-hop and hundreds of musicians recorded sessions for his show.
1.1 (also punk rocker) [count noun] An admirer or player of punk rock, typically characterized by coloured spiked hair and clothing decorated with safety pins or zips: punks fought Teds on the Kings Road on Saturday afternoons
More example sentences
  • Wearing black leather, dark eye makeup, and dyed hair, the punks stand before graffiti-covered brick walls and inside doorways scowling at the camera.
  • Back then he was a punk with green hair and ear rings.
  • In another, she mingles with East Village punks in pink-and-orange hair, distressed biker jacket, shredded tights, and sleep-deprived eyes.
2North American informal A worthless person (often used as a general term of abuse): you think any of these punks they got fighting today could stand up to Joe Louis?
More example sentences
  • A cranky, old, blind man, who lives next door and is always barking, ‘Turn down that music, you lousy punks!’
  • Don, you and the rest of your little buddies are the same worthless rat punks now that you were as 12-year-olds.
  • If things keep up the way they are, hockey players will be nothing but actors, punks.
2.1A criminal or thug: there’s never been a better time to take our streets back from the punks
More example sentences
  • He had the kind of face that made him look like a punk or thug.
  • Two upside-down Yakuza punks were stepping up onto the platform.
  • And we today would be worshiping some pantheon of gangster punks instead of Him.
2.2US derogatory (In prison slang) a passive male homosexual: he determined to be made into no one’s punk
2.3An inexperienced young person: [as modifier]: you were a nobody, a punk kid starting out
More example sentences
  • I was a punk, know-it-all kid to summarize. I have matured drastically since 16 and continue to do so.
  • Compared to Europe, the US seems like the immature fifteen year old punks in the back of the room giggling when someone says ‘boobie.’
  • The kings of the heartogram didn't fail to impress, with a diverse crowd gathered, including everyone from young punks to soccer moms and even a haggard old bat dancing around in lingerie.
3 [mass noun] chiefly North American Soft, crumbly wood that has been attacked by fungus, used as tinder.


Back to top  
1North American informal In poor condition: I felt too punk to eat
2Relating to punk rock and its associated subculture: a punk band a punk haircut
More example sentences
  • Already garnering rave reviews, Cherry details the life of a young woman in Winnipeg's punk subculture as she gets entangled with an abusive boyfriend.
  • The most moving of the three, this chapter has Spheeris move away from focusing on the performers and looks at the punk subculture itself.
  • The Damned were the first to publish a punk rock single, the first punk band to tour the States and influencers of countless other bands.


late 17th century (in sense 3 of the noun): perhaps, in some senses, related to archaic punk 'prostitute', also to spunk.



Example sentences
  • Most important and enduring English modern rock band - began as minimalist punkish trio before defining and transcending goth, mutating into psychedelic jam band, before returning to bright alt-rock.
  • Has uniquely combined guitar grandeur of arena rock, punkish independence, Celtic spirituality, even electronica: all held together by Bono's transcendent vision and charisma.
  • The four-piece combo, soon growing to five, demanded attention and are infectiously funky, whether busting out the jams with their punkish spirited guitar pop, or speaker busting, live electronic mashups.


adjective (punkier, punkiest)
Example sentences
  • It's bouncy, angsty, punky stuff that I can't stop listening to.
  • Razel play a unique punky, heavy metal style of music, adding pinches of funk and pop-laden vocals which gives it a feel somewhere between cute and aggressive.
  • There are also good-humoured punky bursts, moody sketches, whistling ditties and enough live action to remind you that Mukai is a bass player by trade.

Definition of punk in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day vigesimal
Pronunciation: vɪˈdʒɛsɪm(ə)l
relating to or based on the number twenty