Share this entry

skunkworks Line breaks: skunk|works
Pronunciation: /skʌŋkˈwəːkʃ/

Definition of skunkworks in English:

plural noun

[usually treated as singular] US informal trademark
An experimental laboratory or department of a company or institution, typically smaller than and independent of its main research division: this wasn’t a short-staffed skunkworks, these were the top research managers the most successful collection of such skunkworks cannot alone propel the growth of a large company [as modifier]: this was a real skunkworks project
More example sentences
  • Now, thanks to a combination of a skunkworks project within Google, and an enterprising Java developer, Google has done much to close the gap.
  • Our multimedia skunkworks has experimented with file recovery programs that restore deleted images on removable media.
  • Another drawback of the skunkworks approach is that it may create a climate of us and them.


1970s (originally used in reference to the research laboratories of the aerospace company Lockheed Martin): allegedly from an association with the Skonk Works, an illegal still in the 'Li'l Abner' comic strip.

Definition of skunkworks in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day confidant
Pronunciation: ˈkɒnfɪdant
a person with whom one shares a secret...