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Etymology 1Edit

Of uncertain origin, likely coming from a semantic extension of "scoundrel" (cognate to German Schurke, Dutch schurk); it was originally called dogfish or similar in English. It was previously believed that the word was derived in reference to a specimen brought to England by John Hawkins in the 1560s and could be derived from Yucatec Maya xoc (fish), pronounced /ʃok/, but Thomas Beckington used the word in 1442 to refer to a kind of fish, ruling out the hypothesis of a New World origin for the word.[1]

Alternative formsEdit


shark (plural sharks)

  1. A scaleless, predatory fish of the superorder Selachimorpha, with a cartilaginous skeleton and 5 to 7 gill slits on each side of its head.
    • 1569, The true discripcion of this marueilous straunge Fishe, whiche was taken on Thursday was sennight, the xvi. day of June, this present month, in the yeare of our Lord God, M.D.lxix., a broadside printed in London, the earliest known use of the term; reprinted in A Collection of Seventy-Nine Black-Letter Ballads and Broadsides: printed in the reigh of Queen Elizabeth, between the years 1559 and 1597 in 1867:
      The straunge fishe is in length xvij. foote and iij. foote broad, and in compas about the bodie vj. foote; and is round snowted, short headdid, hauing iij. rankes of teeth on either iawe, [...]. Also it hath v. gills of eache side of the head, shoing white. Ther is no proper name for it that I know, but that sertayne men of Captayne Haukinses doth call it a sharke.
    • 2011 October 13, AP, “Man 'surfs' great white shark”, in The Guardian:
      He said he had spoken to a woman who was kayaking off Catalina Island, California, in 2008 when a shark slammed her kayak from underneath and sent her flying into the air. She then landed on the back of the shark, Collier said. "At that point the shark started to swim out to sea, so she jumped off its back," Collier said.
  2. Someone who exploits others, for example by trickery, lies, usury, extortion.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      “[…] Churchill, my dear fellow, we have such greedy sharks, and wolves in lamb's clothing. Oh, dear, there's so much to tell you, so many warnings to give you, but all that must be postponed for the moment.”
  • (scaleless cartilaginous fish): haye (obsolete)
Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From the German Schurke (scoundrel).


shark (plural sharks)

  1. (informal, derogatory) A sleazy and amoral lawyer; an ambulance chaser.
  2. (informal) A relentless and resolute person or group, especially in business.
  3. (informal) A very good poker or pool player. Compare fish (a bad poker player).
  4. (sports and games) A person who feigns ineptitude to win money from others.
  • (player who feigns ineptitude to win money): hustler
Usage notesEdit
  • The use of the term by people unfamiliar with pool is rarely well perceived by experienced players.
Derived termsEdit


shark (third-person singular simple present sharks, present participle sharking, simple past and past participle sharked)

  1. (obsolete) To steal or obtain through fraud.
  2. (obsolete, intransitive) To play the petty thief; to practice fraud or trickery; to swindle.
    • Bishop Earle
      Neither sharks for a cup or a reckoning.
  3. (obsolete, intransitive) To live by shifts and stratagems.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Beaumont and Fletcher to this entry?)
Derived termsEdit

Further readingEdit

  • shark at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • shark in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911

Etymology 3Edit

Perhaps from the noun, or perhaps related to shear.


shark (third-person singular simple present sharks, present participle sharking, simple past and past participle sharked)

  1. (obsolete) To pick or gather indiscriminately or covertly.
    • Shakespeare, Hamlet I.i.
      Fortinbras [] Hath [] Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes.



  1. ^ “Shark”, in Middle English Dictionary[1], University of Michigan, (Please provide a date or year)




shark m

  1. shell (of certain fruits like nuts, hazel, chestnut etc)
  2. skin (that covers the seed of certain fruits like peach, grape, prunes etc)
  3. snake skin
Related termsEdit