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Etymology 1Edit

Middle English, reinforced by Middle Dutch and Middle Low German hulk, from Old English hulc (fast ship), from Medieval Latin hulcus, from a Mediterranean loan akin to Ancient Greek ὀλκάσ (olkás, cargo ship), from ἕλκω (hélkō, to drag).


  • IPA(key): /hʌlk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌlk


hulk (plural hulks)

  1. A non-functional but floating ship, usually stripped of rigging and equipment, and often put to other uses such as storage or accommodation.
  2. (archaic) Any large ship that is difficult to maneuver.
  3. A big (and possibly clumsy) person.
  4. A large structure with a dominating presence.
    • 2019 February 5, Oliver Wainwright, “Super-tall, super-skinny, super-expensive: the 'pencil towers' of New York's super-rich”, in The Guardian[1]:
      The sturdy trunk of Central Park Tower is rising nearby – a great glass hulk that will soon steal the crown for the most vertiginous residences on the planet.
  5. (bodybuilding) An excessively muscled person.
large ship, difficult to maneuver
non-functioning, floating ship
  • 1918, Katherine Mansfield, Prelude, as printed in Selected Stories, Oxford World's Classics (2002), paperback, page 83
    They could see the lighthouse shining on Quarantine Island, and the green lights on the old coal hulks.

Etymology 2Edit

Compare Middle Low German holken to hollow out, and similar Swedish word.


hulk (third-person singular simple present hulks, present participle hulking, simple past and past participle hulked)

  1. To remove the entrails of; to disembowel.
    to hulk a hare
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Beaumont and Fletcher to this entry?)

Further readingEdit


Lower SorbianEdit


hulk m

  1. Obsolete spelling of wulk