Definition of hulk in English:



  • 1An old ship stripped of fittings and permanently moored, especially for use as storage or (formerly) as a prison.

    • ‘The shoreline was cluttered with the rusting hulks of old ships that had been hauled out of the sea and hundreds of people were crawling over the wrecks salvaging anything of value.’
    • ‘He called orders to the men in the rigging that would ease their forward motion and approach to the prison hulk.’
    • ‘Hans felt his head thrown forward, as his ears suffered the groaning of the hull, as the massive hulk of the ship came to one stop.’
    • ‘But as far as the rotting hulks and derelict barges are concerned - nothing.’
    • ‘The horizon is low, the masts and hulks of the ships making a series of horizontals and verticals receding far into the distance.’
    • ‘The final design of the Mulberry Harbours called for a breakwater created by sunken ship hulks and the manufacture of an outer sea wall of huge concrete boxes which were given the codename, Phoenix.’
    • ‘The site, once a shipyard, is reclaimed land incorporating hulks of ships abandoned by the Forty-niners rushing inland for gold.’
    • ‘South Australia also had its own prison hulks, moored at Semaphore.’
    • ‘The only reminders of the once thriving fishing activity are the rusting hulks of ships and an ancient fish plant.’
    • ‘Jorgenson's downfall led to his return to England as a prisoner, and his committal to a Thames River prison hulk, Bahama, among fellow Danish officers.’
    • ‘Sold in 1953, it was towed into St Omer Bay in Kenepuru Sound in Marlborough and used as a store hulk.’
    • ‘Submerged in the azure waters of the ominously named Shipwreck Bay, the rusting hulk of the oil tanker Jessica is a somber reminder of man's threat to the fragile paradise of the Galapagos Islands.’
    • ‘Some of the ships were old hulks that had been destined for the breakers' yard when pressed into service.’
    • ‘Some ships were dismasted and used as prison or storage hulks.’
    • ‘For security's sake the hulks were moored some way from shore in deep water - floating Alcatrazes.’
    • ‘I first wrote to you in May 1996 concerning the parlous state of the hulks and barges moored illegally along the waterfront by Waterman's Park.’
    • ‘Faden's father, convicted of burglary, had died in the prison hulks off Portsmouth, and Marella herself was found guilty of stealing a dead sheep (though she only got a week for that).’
    • ‘I was kept on a derelict hulk on the Thames, and no-one told me how long it would be before I was moved on.’
    • ‘Plans were made for the removal from the harbour of two old ship hulks - one at Cartron shore and the other at the old quay at the bottom of Quay Street.’
    • ‘The petrol-driven Hollands were initially consigned to Fareham Creek along with powder vessels, quarantine hulks and other undesirables.’
    • ‘The rusting hulk of a long-abandoned Soviet ship loomed in the distance.’
    wreck, shipwreck, ruin, shell, skeleton, hull, frame, framework, derelict
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    1. 1.1 A large disused structure.
      ‘hulks of abandoned machinery’
      • ‘Looming over the entire museum complex is the massive, windowless hulk of the Back Shop, destined to be the fourth, final, and most spectacular exhibition area.’
      • ‘Old department stores are empty hulks; the shoppers prefer the malls out of town.’
      • ‘There was hope that its great silhouette would be able to breathe again when the neighbouring hulk of Heron House was deemed unsafe.’
      • ‘Cowan said the burned-out hulk of the building, once a military base and still a national heritage site owned by the national Department of Public Works, could not be torn down.’
      • ‘One survivor said it was literally like an earthquake and it left that building just a burned-out hulk.’
      • ‘Now the same streets were all but deserted - apart from the many abandoned hulks of upturned, burnt-out cars.’
      • ‘Many of those once-shiny factories are rusting hulks.’
      • ‘Burned-out hulks of several trailer houses were nearby.’
      • ‘A network of local yards would have one central location where remaining crushed hulks of vehicles would go once all the re-usable parts have been removed.’
      • ‘In real life, though, at least 10 of the photo's buildings are abandoned hulks.’
      • ‘Mr Brown keeps the crippled hulk of his truck in a shed at his home, a several hundred-acre estate in Beech Island, South Carolina.’
      • ‘Instead of burnt crack houses, rusted hulks of old Fords, and rotting crack babies in garbage cans, it was a beautiful picturesque city with looming skyscrapers and lush parks.’
      • ‘There is the hospital that had been the newly built pride of its community, reduced to a burned-out hulk, every window blown out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All along the roads, cars beached for the onset of dark, their huddled hulks miniature bastions guarding the moats of lawns.’
      • ‘Tom and Tim have carted away the junk (rusting hulks of machinery) that the airport owner collected on site, so that the place is looking positively respectable.’
      • ‘The hulks of machinery littering the site created lots of nooks and crevasses for Bailey to sniff around.’
      • ‘Darting from in between the rusted hulks of shelled out transports they encroached further into the enemy's territory.’
      • ‘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.’
      wreck, debris, detritus, remainder
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  • 2A large or unwieldy boat or other object.

    ‘great towering hulks of oak, ash, and chestnut’
    • ‘The blackened hulks of the great ships and the flattened hangars testified to the fact that the American awakening to what was happening in the rest of the world was sudden and painful.’
    • ‘The US will bring two hulks (out-of-commission ships) to be sunk 300 nm off the coast of Queensland during the live firing exercise.’
    • ‘Within the brick hulk, where floors can support a live load of 3 tonnes per square metre, up to 700 parking spaces and a services level can be tucked out of sight.’
    • ‘Rushwind looks at the battered hulk of his ship.’
    • ‘On the edges of the battlefield, damaged hulks of defeated ships listed slowly off to ignite in flashes of multicolored flame, or implode in showers of sparks.’
    • ‘With the cost topping $5 million, it was decided to sink the hulk 2.5 nautical miles east of Mudjimba Island, off Mooloolaba.’
    • ‘The path wound its way through the mountains haphazardly, towering hulks of stone suspended high above them.’
    • ‘Among the craft that littered the harbour was the hulk of the battleship Haruna lying quietly in the shallows, its deck just above the water.’
    • ‘These hulks can also provide support fire for brief periods of time.’
    • ‘The grey hulk of the jail stares out across Dublin's north inner city.’
    • ‘They grab Frank, throw him in the car, and cart him off to a rotting medieval hulk of a prison.’
    • ‘Meanwhile in Cardiff, having rejected Hadid, they have built a graceless hulk called the Millennium Stadium right in the city centre, with lottery money.’
    • ‘Though the vast hulk of the ship daunted her and dampened her spirits immensely, the warm touch of Lucien's steadying hand encouraged and thrilled her.’
    • ‘The original Victorian cast iron structure has been stripped back and exposed, its riveted, pitted hulk like a decaying ship's hull.’
    • ‘Towering over the town was Turtle Mountain, a massive hulk of limestone and shale layered with veins of coal in its core.’
    • ‘They put us all up in the Hilton Metropole, which despite its impressive name and even more impressive size, is still a concrete hulk stuck between a building site and the main road.’
    • ‘Its fraying carpets, Formica decor and inappropriate flooring for computer networks are all part of the look and feel of a glass hulk of a building constructed in 1963.’
    1. 2.1 A large, clumsy-looking person.
      ‘a six-foot hulk of a man’
      • ‘A brooding hulk of a man stepped through the entrance.’
      • ‘A rather large hulk of a man, he looked at his old friend with amusement.’
      • ‘A burly blond hulk of a man spoke from the far end of the table.’
      • ‘He is one of life's cruel jokes: a lumbering hulk of a man, ugly within and without.’
      • ‘One of these thugs, a balding hulk of a man, performs a neat trick with an espresso coffee.’
      • ‘To get straight to the point without having to get past the two hulks at the door, he dived through the window, shattering it into a million pieces.’
      • ‘Passing the hulk of a man - even now Charlie couldn't quite see his face, it was too high up and obscured in the dim lights - the boy went up the stairs and back into the main area of the rest stop building.’
      • ‘Another unsung hero has been a towering hulk who has made life miserable for opponents trying to stand in front of the San Jose net.’
      • ‘He is a towering hulk of a homeless man who spends his days patrolling the stretch from the air vent at the back of the St James Centre (where, legend has it, he sleeps) down to the corner-shop opposite my flat.’
      • ‘He was a vast hulk of a man, who hummed a tuneless melody to himself as he lumbered down the corridors.’
      • ‘A towering hulk of a man is vigorously hacking away at a formless lump of meat.’
      • ‘Why is it Hollywood feels we need to see wet, naked hulks conversing in the bathroom?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Running backs come and go, used-up hulks dumped for the latest phenoms.’
      • ‘After a moment, he let out a high, piercing whistle that somehow seemed strange coming from the hulk of a man.’
      • ‘And now the muscular hulk of the raging brother roars through the doorway, like a terrible predator seeking prey.’
      • ‘Finally, it was over his head, but the battle was not yet over as it was still under the hulk of a man.’
      • ‘I heard footsteps on the sidewalk and saw a hulk of a man approaching from the office, who I first assumed was a guest.’
      • ‘My mother, frail in comparison to the hulk of a man she'd married, was sitting on the couch, too, but looked like she was trying to stay as far from him as possible.’


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’.