September 23rd, 2019

words 6
  • sallymn

Sunday Word: Skulk

Sorry it's a day late... still not really over the grotty from last week :(

skulk [skuhlk]
1 Keep out of sight, typically with a sinister or cowardly motive; to hide or conceal something (such as oneself) often out of cowardice or fear or with sinister intent.

2 Move stealthily or furtively.

3 Shirk one's duties or responsibilities.

collective noun for foxes


This species is found almost exclusively in salt marshes, where they skulk about like rats. (Chester Reed, Bird Guide)

They skulk and scuttle around our living room every night and in the morning we find leftover bits of flies, beetles and other bugs the giant spider's been gorging on. (Carol McGiffin, We won't tell them to leg it, 2014)

It's a chill day in the Blue Mountains. We pause for a pot of tea and cherry pie in the Everglades cafe, near a skulk of foxes making mischief in a shopping trolley. (Peter Munro, Wild cabinet of wonders: Rod McRae's taxidermy art opens up the animal world, Sydney Morning Herald Jun 2017)

The consequent meanness of me should I skulk or find myself indecent,
while birds and animals never once skulk or find themselves indecent (Walt Whitman, 'Spontaneous Me')


Middle English of Scandinavian origin; compare with Norwegian skulka 'lurk', and Danish skulke, Swedish skolka 'shirk'. (Oxford English Dictionary)

Can you name three things that the word skulk has in common with all of these other words: booth, brink, cog, flit, give, kid, meek, scab, seem, skull and wing? If you noticed that all of the terms on that list have just one syllable, then you've got the first (easy) similarity, but the next two are likely to prove a little harder to guess. Do you give up? All of the words listed above are of Scandinavian origin and all were first recorded in English in the 13th century. As for 'skulk,' its closest known Scandinavian relative is the Norwegian dialect word skulka, which means 'to lie in wait' or 'lurk.' (Merriam-Webster)