Definition of punk in US English:



  • 1A loud, fast-moving, and aggressive form of rock music, popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

    • ‘Consequently, the album sews punk, northern soul, hip hop, garage and electronica together and then pulls the whole lot inside out.’
    • ‘From death metal to violins and Jewish harps, folk music, punk, soul, reggae and gospel, we've got it all.’
    • ‘It's a rock edge that easily veers over to double-time punk or laid-back ska.’
    • ‘In his autobiography he points to influences from punk, reggae, rock and pop with hip-hop, which really gave him his sense of direction.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's dance music coming out of a background of hardcore punk where brevity is part of our thing.’
    • ‘There are 30 young acts performing music ranging from punk to hip hop and ska to salsa.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their unique mix of reggae and punk kept the crowd jumping and shaking for the entirety of their enthused set.’
    • ‘He gave early exposure to forms of music such as punk, reggae and hip-hop and hundreds of musicians recorded sessions for his show.’
    • ‘They go on to state that, in the late '70s, punk was more than loud music and T-shirt slogans.’
    • ‘The breakthrough of punk internationally put rock music and popular culture back in the hands of fans and amateurs.’
    • ‘Come and enjoy a mixture of sublime acoustic and pop music, punk, electronic wizardy, hard-rock and funk.’
    • ‘His band, The Clash - with their electric combination of punk, reggae, hard rock blues and jazz were just brilliant.’
    • ‘He just had that amazing knack of picking great songs - whether it was punk, techno, jazz, blues, rock, pop or rap.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Thirty years ago he fused the sound of punk with dub reggae and early hip-hop acts and created something new.’
    • ‘I was born in West London and grew up listening to reggae and punk rock.’
    • ‘John was the first DJ to give exposure to punk, reggae and hip-hop, long before they crossed over into the mainstream.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 An admirer or player of punk rock, typically characterized by colored spiked hair and clothing decorated with safety pins or zippers.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What about when you were a teenager - did you dress any particular way - were you a hippy or a punk?’
      • ‘Back then he was a punk with green hair and ear rings.’
      • ‘This punk had her short hair completely purple.’
      • ‘A tall punk with flaming red hair had his arm slung tightly around her waist in a possessive manner.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When he was in Denver he showed up with spiked hair, like a punk rocker.’
      • ‘Wearing black leather, dark eye makeup, and dyed hair, the punks stand before graffiti-covered brick walls and inside doorways scowling at the camera.’
      • ‘I vaguely recall photo spreads of spiky-haired punks in a newspaper colour supplement, but that's it really.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I even saw some old skinhead-type punks down at the front who seemed to appreciate the band.’
      • ‘I'm one of those punks whose hair color changes with their mood.’
      • ‘Ever seen people with green and blue hair that dress like punks?’
      • ‘A young punk with a hair dyed laser pink came over to my table.’
      • ‘In another, she mingles with East Village punks in pink-and-orange hair, distressed biker jacket, shredded tights, and sleep-deprived eyes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When I got out I had to step around a punk with blue hair wearing a woman's leopard-print shirt.’
      • ‘The Diamondbacks are as streaky as a punk rocker's hair.’
      • ‘Winona thought Devon was really cute, he had black hair and was a punk.’
      • ‘Because we were the generation that had been raised on a diet of 1970s dreariness, of safety-pinned punks and urban grot.’
  • 2North American informal A worthless person (often used as a general term of abuse).

    • ‘He walks up and says, ‘They're nothing but a bunch of punks.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The loudest voices are those of the blustering schoolyard bully who crudely masks his own inadequacies by calling others sissies and punks.’
    • ‘Get the hell away from me you stupid punk!’
    • ‘Beer-swilling punks drag race through the river.’
    • ‘A cranky, old, blind man, who lives next door 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.’
    • ‘You two are the stupid punks who spiked her drink in the first place!’
    • ‘To them, office punks were nobodies, failures.’
    • ‘You ain't nothin' but a punk anyway, and I'm gonna cut ya.’
    1. 2.1 A criminal or hoodlum.
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Two upside-down Yakuza punks were stepping up onto the platform.’
      • ‘She turned to see a gang of street punks with chains and very sharp weapons that they showed off.’
      • ‘The Setex Security Chief didn't like gang punks any more than Alan did, but he didn't like Alan much, either.’
      • ‘Chidduck sends his bagman, Sarno, to talk to the punks in a Mexican bordello where they're hiding out.’
      • ‘It's more like several mini-sequences: the botched hijacking, Brian and Dominic's square-off with the Asian punks, and their final confrontation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And we today would be worshiping some pantheon of gangster punks instead of Him.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The four punks who attacked Sammy were all sitting handcuffed to chairs on the defendant's side of the room.’
      • ‘Gove is a notorious figure, playing with NYC's gutter punks L.E.S. Stitches and, more recently, street-punk kings U.S. Bombs.’
      • ‘It would demonstrate American capabilities to the armed punks who rape, torture and murder the unarmed and helpless on a daily basis.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There were homeless people, and gutter punks, and crime - muggings and prostitution.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They need to be treated like the junkies and street punks that they are.’
      • ‘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 tells the story of Ellie, Gerald and Dan, three street punks fresh from reform school, who are desperate and need money.’
    2. 2.2US derogatory (in prison slang) a passive male homosexual.
    3. 2.3 An inexperienced young person; a novice.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was a punk, know-it-all kid to summarize. I have matured drastically since 16 and continue to do so.’
      novice, starter, learner, student, pupil, trainee, apprentice, probationer
      View synonyms
  • 3North American Soft, crumbly wood that has been attacked by fungus, sometimes used as tinder.


  • 1Relating to punk rock and its associated subculture.

    ‘a punk band’
    ‘a punk haircut’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The most moving of the three, this chapter has Spheeris move away from focusing on the performers and looks at the punk subculture itself.’
    • ‘There's a lot of punk bands that start in high school and end in high school.’
    • ‘Crying about it wasn't the punk thing to do, but I couldn't help it.’
    • ‘Small audiences and an intact (no, not dead) punk community give a personalized edge to this music-driven push.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The quartet embraces the classic punk idioms of lo-fi production, charging guitars and three-chord progressions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hebdige considers the punk adoption of the swastika as a particularly troublesome moment in the negotiation of punk subculture.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 2North American informal In poor or bad condition.

    ‘I felt too punk to eat’


[with object]US
  • 1Trick 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 sports) defeat utterly.
      ‘the Tigers punked the Sooners 40–6’


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