Definition of hulk in English:

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Pronunciation: /hʌlk/


1An old ship stripped of fittings and permanently moored, especially for use as storage or (formerly) as a prison.
Example sentences
  • Some ships were dismasted and used as prison or storage hulks.
  • South Australia also had its own prison hulks, moored at Semaphore.
  • He called orders to the men in the rigging that would ease their forward motion and approach to the prison hulk.
wreck, shipwreck, ruin, shell, skeleton, hull, frame, framework, derelict
1.1A large disused structure: hulks of abandoned machinery
More example sentences
  • Alongside it sit the abandoned hulks of an oil-seed mill and textile factory.
  • Kirstie peered towards the west at the dark hulks of abandoned buildings in the distance.
  • Beta steered us off the main roads down some quite narrow roads, framed on either side by the windowless hulk of tall buildings, but it was not long until we felt lost and longed to return to the relative comfort of a more populated street.
2A large or unwieldy boat or other object: great towering hulks of oak, ash, and chestnut
More example sentences
  • The path wound its way through the mountains haphazardly, towering hulks of stone suspended high above them.
  • Towering over the town was Turtle Mountain, a massive hulk of limestone and shale layered with veins of coal in its core.
  • The original Victorian cast iron structure has been stripped back and exposed, its riveted, pitted hulk like a decaying ship's hull.
2.1A large, clumsy-looking person: a six-foot hulk of a man
More example sentences
  • A hulk of a man with long sideburns and a warm laugh, he had been a reporter with China Youth Daily for 10 years when, in 1996, he heard the story of the acid attack against the man.
  • One of these thugs, a balding hulk of a man, performs a neat trick with an espresso coffee.
  • I heard footsteps on the sidewalk and saw a hulk of a man approaching from the office, who I first assumed was a guest.
informal clodhopper, ape, gorilla
North American informal lummox, klutz
North American & Scottish informal galoot
archaic lubber, clodpole


Old English hulc 'fast ship', probably reinforced in Middle English by Middle Low German and Middle Dutch hulk; probably of Mediterranean origin and related to Greek holkas 'cargo ship'.

  • A hulk was originally a large cargo or transport ship. The word is probably of Mediterranean origin and related to Greek holkas ‘cargo ship’. In the late 17th century it came to apply to an old ship stripped of fittings and permanently moored, especially one used for storage or as a prison. Large, clumsy people began to be described as hulks in the late Middle Ages.

Words that rhyme with hulk

bulk, skulk, sulk

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: hulk

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