Definition of skunkworks in English:


plural noun

informal, trademark
  • [usually treated as singular] 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’
    • ‘Yamhill is Intel's skunkworks effort to add 64 bit instructions to the x86 line.’
    • ‘Our multimedia skunkworks has experimented with file recovery programs that restore deleted images on removable media.’
    • ‘Microsoft must want Corel's Linux expertise to get the skunkworks Linux Office port flying, right?’
    • ‘Have you ever noticed how many cool hardware and software products are made by skunkworks operations?’
    • ‘And Lotus, a skunkworks of clever engineering, was sold.’
    • ‘Another drawback of the skunkworks approach is that it may create a climate of us and them.’
    • ‘Apple co-opts the Mozilla code base for a skunkworks native OS X browser that's both super fast and grannie-friendly.’
    • ‘The chipset and motherboard are designed by Bechtolsheim's skunkworks team.’
    • ‘‘We used to be a skunkworks,’ he admits, and adds, ‘But we do have a skunkworks within us.’’
    • ‘Now, thanks to a combination of a skunkworks project within Google, and an enterprising Java developer, Google has done much to close the gap.’
    • ‘‘It's a classic example of the skunkworks approach,’ Bovet says.’
    • ‘Leave standard-setting, skunkworks, innovation, and invention to the private sector.’
    • ‘We first confirmed that Intel's Jackson project was slightly more than a skunkworks sideline here, last February in fact.’


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.