Definition of punk in English:



  • 1[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’
    • ‘It's a rock edge that easily veers over to double-time punk or laid-back ska.’
    • ‘It's dance music coming out of a background of hardcore punk where brevity is part of our thing.’
    • ‘His band, The Clash - with their electric combination of punk, reggae, hard rock blues and jazz were just brilliant.’
    • ‘Every new rock genre that comes along, from psychedelia to punk, grunge to Britpop, is driven by male artists, with women relegated either to the margins or a handful of supporting roles.’
    • ‘Fresh from their recent comeback gig at the Festival Hall, The Beat will be bringing their mix of reggae, ska and punk to Croydon with a set to get the crowd jumping.’
    • ‘They go on to state that, in the late '70s, punk was more than loud music and T-shirt slogans.’
    • ‘From garage rock to punk, electro and disco it's blend of angular funk bass lines, cut and paste loops and warp style electronica provides both a fascinating and highly danceable listen.’
    • ‘He gave early exposure to forms of music such as punk, reggae and hip-hop and hundreds of musicians recorded sessions for his show.’
    • ‘Their unique mix of reggae and punk kept the crowd jumping and shaking for the entirety of their enthused set.’
    • ‘John was the first DJ to give exposure to punk, reggae and hip-hop, long before they crossed over into the mainstream.’
    • ‘This broad range of experimentation builds on the musical flourishing of the 1960s and 1970s where bands like The Clash mixed punk with reggae and ska.’
    • ‘From death metal to violins and Jewish harps, folk music, punk, soul, reggae and gospel, we've got it all.’
    • ‘The breakthrough of punk internationally put rock music and popular culture back in the hands of fans and amateurs.’
    • ‘There are 30 young acts performing music ranging from punk to hip hop and ska to salsa.’
    • ‘Come and enjoy a mixture of sublime acoustic and pop music, punk, electronic wizardy, hard-rock and funk.’
    • ‘Consequently, the album sews punk, northern soul, hip hop, garage and electronica together and then pulls the whole lot inside out.’
    • ‘He just had that amazing knack of picking great songs - whether it was punk, techno, jazz, blues, rock, pop or rap.’
    • ‘Thirty years ago he fused the sound of punk with dub reggae and early hip-hop acts and created something new.’
    • ‘In his autobiography he points to influences from punk, reggae, rock and pop with hip-hop, which really gave him his sense of direction.’
    • ‘I was born in West London and grew up listening to reggae and punk rock.’
    1. 1.1[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’
      • ‘In order to stay away from these images, I will leave you with this: Think innovative punk rockers with safety pins through freshly pierced ears.’
      • ‘I'm one of those punks whose hair color changes with their mood.’
      • ‘I even saw some old skinhead-type punks down at the front who seemed to appreciate the band.’
      • ‘This punk had her short hair completely purple.’
      • ‘In some of her designs for trousers, there was the additional and creative element of safety pins, a unique accessory for punks, a reason she won kudos that night.’
      • ‘I vaguely recall photo spreads of spiky-haired punks in a newspaper colour supplement, but that's it really.’
      • ‘Because we were the generation that had been raised on a diet of 1970s dreariness, of safety-pinned punks and urban grot.’
      • ‘When I got out I had to step around a punk with blue hair wearing a woman's leopard-print shirt.’
      • ‘In another, she mingles with East Village punks in pink-and-orange hair, distressed biker jacket, shredded tights, and sleep-deprived eyes.’
      • ‘But it was the visual image of the tribes that scandalised the public: the bovver boots and crops of the skins; the safety pins and loo-brush hairdos of the punks.’
      • ‘Ever seen people with green and blue hair that dress like punks?’
      • ‘Back then he was a punk with green hair and ear rings.’
      • ‘Wearing black leather, dark eye makeup, and dyed hair, the punks stand before graffiti-covered brick walls and inside doorways scowling at the camera.’
      • ‘When he was in Denver he showed up with spiked hair, like a punk rocker.’
      • ‘Winona thought Devon was really cute, he had black hair and was a punk.’
      • ‘A tall punk with flaming red hair had his arm slung tightly around her waist in a possessive manner.’
      • ‘He wore a leather jacket to school against regulations, a punk spiked dog collar despite being told numerous times to remove it and died his midnight black hair an incongruous blond.’
      • ‘A young punk with a hair dyed laser pink came over to my table.’
      • ‘What about when you were a teenager - did you dress any particular way - were you a hippy or a punk?’
      • ‘The Diamondbacks are as streaky as a punk rocker's hair.’
  • 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?’
    • ‘Get the hell away from me you stupid punk!’
    • ‘The loudest voices are those of the blustering schoolyard bully who crudely masks his own inadequacies by calling others sissies and punks.’
    • ‘Don, you and the rest of your little buddies are the same worthless rat punks now that you were as 12-year-olds.’
    • ‘You two are the stupid punks who spiked her drink in the first place!’
    • ‘Beer-swilling punks drag race through the river.’
    • ‘I think he was just trying to make me feel like a useless punk, since the only thing I've ever done with my own hands over any Thanksgiving was stuff a turkey.’
    • ‘A cranky, old, blind man, who lives next door is always barking, ‘Turn down that music, you lousy punks!’’
    • ‘To them, office punks were nobodies, failures.’
    • ‘You ain't nothin' but a punk anyway, and I'm gonna cut ya.’
    • ‘He walks up and says, ‘They're nothing but a bunch of punks.’’
    1. 2.1A criminal or thug.
      ‘there's never been a better time to take our streets back from the punks’
      • ‘It would demonstrate American capabilities to the armed punks who rape, torture and murder the unarmed and helpless on a daily basis.’
      • ‘Gove is a notorious figure, playing with NYC's gutter punks L.E.S. Stitches and, more recently, street-punk kings U.S. Bombs.’
      • ‘They need to be treated like the junkies and street punks that they are.’
      • ‘The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the streets, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.’
      • ‘While Spidey may not be packing heat or killing punks like Tommy Vercetti, the GTA influenced gameplay makes webslinging so much more exciting than previous games.’
      • ‘It tells the story of Ellie, Gerald and Dan, three street punks fresh from reform school, who are desperate and need money.’
      • ‘We got the most amazing answer - something like $450 million was owed in outstanding fines, with some young punks out there owing up to $90,000.’
      • ‘The Setex Security Chief didn't like gang punks any more than Alan did, but he didn't like Alan much, either.’
      • ‘When he gets mugged by a gang of street punks and left beaten up in an alley, Goda's desire for a gun grows even more intense.’
      • ‘It's more like several mini-sequences: the botched hijacking, Brian and Dominic's square-off with the Asian punks, and their final confrontation.’
      • ‘She turned to see a gang of street punks with chains and very sharp weapons that they showed off.’
      • ‘The four punks who attacked Sammy were all sitting handcuffed to chairs on the defendant's side of the room.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Presumably assaulting a 67-year-old woman and threatening to dig up her husband's body makes these nutcases feel like their true revolutionaries rather than pathetic punks.’
      • ‘Chidduck sends his bagman, Sarno, to talk to the punks in a Mexican bordello where they're hiding out.’
      • ‘He had the kind of face that made him look like a punk or thug.’
      • ‘Less than .00001 percent of handguns ever manufactured have been used for illegal activities, and 99 percent of the time by punks some goofy judge figured ought to be out on the street with us.’
      • ‘There were homeless people, and gutter punks, and crime - muggings and prostitution.’
      • ‘We're all no doubt envisioning worthless adolescent punks who deserve to lose some teeth, but what if the perpetrator is female, or a precocious 12-year-old?’
    2. 2.2US derogatory (in prison slang) a passive male homosexual.
      ‘he determined to be made into no one's punk’
    3. 2.3An inexperienced young person.
      [as modifier] ‘you were a nobody, a punk kid starting out’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’’
      novice, starter, learner, student, pupil, trainee, apprentice, probationer
      View synonyms
  • 3North American [mass noun] Soft, crumbly wood that has been attacked by fungus, used as tinder.


  • 1Relating to punk rock and its associated subculture.

    ‘a punk band’
    ‘a punk haircut’
    • ‘Hebdige considers the punk adoption of the swastika as a particularly troublesome moment in the negotiation of punk subculture.’
    • ‘Radio 4 is rooted in British post - punk tradition, and take a lot of their sound from the Clash, Mission of Burma, and Gang of Four.’
    • ‘Thus the appeal of punk covers: you get the energy and the attitude AND recognizable tunes you can sing along with, either out of empathy or derision.’
    • ‘Why would a 43-year-old man still be drumming for a punk band?’
    • ‘Crying about it wasn't the punk thing to do, but I couldn't help it.’
    • ‘Although he wears a crisp button-down shirt, it is cut in the current baggy urban fashion and his hair has been shaved and styled in a slick hip-hop update of the punk Mohawk.’
    • ‘There was someone on it who was in some band that was influential in the 60s or something and was a building block for the punk movement.’
    • ‘My wife experienced the dark side of the suburban dream as a child and ran away to San Francisco, finding solace in the early punk community.’
    • ‘At a time when ‘punk’ is very much ‘in,’ isn't it appropriate that we will soon get to see a real punk band in action?’
    • ‘The most moving of the three, this chapter has Spheeris move away from focusing on the performers and looks at the punk subculture itself.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There's a lot of punk bands that start in high school and end in high school.’
    • ‘Growing up as the post-Cold War generation, in a cushy house and being provided for, punk bands do not know what politics are about, or why they should bother.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I have on a pair of very tight drainpipe trousers, shirt and skinny tie, and a jacket whose thin lapels are partly hidden by a row of tiny badges featuring the names of punk bands.’
    • ‘My younger sister Jeri, in her mauve bridesmaid dress and punk make-up she refused to wash off, handed out photocopied programs to the arriving guests.’
    • ‘The quartet embraces the classic punk idioms of lo-fi production, charging guitars and three-chord progressions.’
    • ‘This American punk band have quietly made a name for themselves through sheer dint of the energy expended on their records and the sense of fun that practically drips from your speakers.’
    • ‘I also saw a picture of her as a bleached-blond punk teenager wearing dark eyeliner and a shirt that looked as if it was made of chain metal.’
    • ‘Small audiences and an intact (no, not dead) punk community give a personalized edge to this music-driven push.’
  • 2North American informal In poor condition.

    ‘I felt too punk to eat’


  • 1 Trick or deceive.

    ‘the Associated Press got punked with a fake tweet’
    ‘his friends punked him and told him that she was having a party, which is why he showed up unannounced’
    1. 1.1(chiefly in sport) defeat utterly.
      ‘the Tigers punked the Sooners 40–6’


Late 17th century (in punk): perhaps, in some senses, related to archaic punk ‘prostitute’, also to spunk.