Submitted by katesmith on January 23, 2005


I was taught by my English Lit professor, whilst studying Chaucer and Shakespeare that the old definition of the word “punk” was “Prostitute”. Is this true? The only references I can find will only give me stuff related to The Sex Pistols & co. Any help? Thanks!


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The word occurs 4 times in 3 plays (see and does evidently mean prostitute.

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According to Merriam-Webster it is true:

this is what it says:

Main Entry: 1punk
Pronunciation: 'p&[ng]k
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
1 archaic : PROSTITUTE
2 [probably partly from 3punk] : NONSENSE, FOOLISHNESS
3 a : a young inexperienced person : BEGINNER, NOVICE; especially : a young man b : a usually petty gangster, hoodlum, or ruffian c : a youth used as a homosexual partner
4 a : PUNK ROCK b : a punk rock musician c : one who affects punk styles

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