a. Any of several small omnivorous mammals of the Americas belonging to the family Mephitidae, having a bushy tail and black fur with white markings and ejecting a foul-smelling oily liquid from glands near the anus when threatened.Also called polecat.
b. The glossy black and white fur of any of these mammals.
2. Slang A person regarded as obnoxious or despicable.
3. Slang Marijuana.
tr.v.skunked, skunk·ing, skunks
1. To spray with the foul-smelling liquid of a skunk:The dog got skunked.
a. To defeat overwhelmingly, especially by keeping from scoring.
b. To cause to have no success trying to catch fish. Used in the passive.
a. To cheat (someone).
b. To fail to pay (an amount due).
[Of Massachusett origin, ultimately fromProto-Algonquian*šeka·kwa : *šek-, urine + *-a·kw, fox, bushy-tailed animal.]
(click for a larger image)skunk
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.