Green’s Dictionary of Slang

funk n.2

[orig. Oxford Univ. use; ult. Flemish fonck, fear]

1. (a state of) cowardice, terror.

[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy I 204: For when I get drunk, toap a Funk, in comes Punk.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 260: She heard how fast the Trojans flew, / And was [...] In a confounded funk for you.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: I was in a cursed funk.
[UK]J. Gillray Hopes of the Party, prior to July 14th 19 July [cartoon] Zounds! what the devil is it that puts me into such a hell of a Funk?
[UK]Sporting Mag. May XVIII 89/2: His death was Extreme Funk-tion.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 21: Up he rose in a funk, lapp’d a toothful of brandy, / And to it again.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 311: I was in a complete funk.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 9 Dec. 45: What a funk that ere military cove is in, to be sure.
[US]G.F. Ruxton Life in the Far West (1849) 12: The mules, which was a-snorting with funk and running before the Injuns followed her right into the corral.
[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes II 77: His first view of the natives of this unknown land [...] breathes such pure ‘funk’ of the inhabitants.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 280: She looks nervous and [...] perhaps she’ll tip something through funk.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 29: What a funk the fellow was in.
[Aus]C. Money Knocking About in N.Z. 111: Mr. Browning [...] had avoided mention of its dangers, for fear of alarming us too soon, and what schoolboys call ‘establishing a funk’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Apr. 4/3: He described to me, graphically, Bruun’s ‘funk’ when he took him into the bank and subjected him to the process of giving over the plunder and writing the statement.
[UK]H. Smart Hard Lines II 266: We were rather in a funk we should be left behind.
[UK]J. Greenwood Behind A Bus 97: I was in a terrible funk then.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Sydney) 3 Feb. 1/1: They Say [...] That funk is always responsible for some wickets in a big match.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 20 Oct. 37: I think the very sight of him made Marshal in rather a funk.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 June 1/1: A Subiaco saint is in a dreadful state of funk.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 23 Jan. 2nd sect. 3/3: Among other sentences hurled at Mike was ‘Keep at him. Pat: he’ll quit,’ a suggestion of funk which naturally made Mike fearfully wild.
[Can]R. Service ‘Funk’ in Rhymes of a Red Cross Man 59: Don’t let your mateys know it— / You’re just sufferin’ from funk, funk, funk.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Jim Maitland (1953) 187: You were in a pea-green funk.
[UK]‘George Orwell’ Down and Out in Complete Works I (1986) 152: It was funk, bred of hunger, that kept him virtuous.
[UK]A. Christie Sparkling Cyanide (1955) 156: Dare say he’s in a funk in case she should get to hear of it.
[UK]P. Larkin letter 18 July in Thwaite Sel. Letters (1992) 185: I reproached myself silently for being in such a gibbering funk as to have come near to spoiling such a happy weekend.
[US]C. Cooper Jr ‘Yet Princes Follow’ in Black! (1996) 268: Teese was in a profound, funk-filled quandary.
[UK]K. Bonfiglioli Don’t Point That Thing at Me (1991) 40: His little eyes dripping tears of hatred and funk.
[UK]W. Boyd ‘Histoire Vache’ in On the Yankee Station (1982) 103: At once a blind funk seized him and he felt convinced he wouldn’t be able to go through with it.
[US]C. Hiaasen Native Tongue 88: Weeks passed with little improvement in the new whale’s temperament. One Sunday, the animal abruptly awakened from its funk.
[UK]L. Pizzichini Dead Men’s Wages (2003) 254: He was isolated in a funk of doubt and apprehension.
[US]Valley Morn. Star (Harlingen, TX) 13 June 16/4: ‘I kind of lost it a little bit [...] But afterwards I broke out of my funk, and I was able to get back on it’.

2. a black mood; a state of depression; thus funking adj., furious.

[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 262: Venus, as haps to many a punk, / Has been in such a woeful funk.
[UK]‘The Juniper Bough’ in Fal-Lal Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 13: Away they sneaked, and their friends began / All over the crib in a funk to run.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 50: Fuzzy getting rather shirty, but nanty palary and funkums.
[UK] ‘The Humours of a Country fair’ in Laughing Songster 174: The last new pantomime [...] called Harlequin in a Funk, or, the Magic Sheep’s Head!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Sept. 14/2: Then disgusted, at length, cried Joanna: / ‘I will slither straight back to Aunt Hannah;’ / So she flies, in a funk, / With a half-corded trunk, / Leaving ‘fairwel’ scratched on the pi-anner.
[UK]Sporting Times 18 Jan. 1: We don’t feel at all certain that it wouldn’t have been better to create a salutary funk by kicking the Portuguese neck and crop out of their Colonial possessions.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 24 Aug. 751: Although I was in such an awful funk, I nearly burst out roaring with laughter at some of the things I saw.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 1 Mar. 5/4: Are yous in a funk? / Inside here, the reggerlations / Dont like subjects as do sulk .
[US]R. McAlmon Three Generations of the Same (1963) 98: The boy was in a black funk.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 157: The last few months Danny had been in a funk.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Age Of Consent 205: In a funking rage, Bradley snapped his traps together and picked up the canvas.
[US]I. Bolton Christmas Tree in N.Y. Mosaic (1999) 270: The poor man retreating in a kind of funk.
[US]S. Bellow Henderson The Rain King 111: Man, don’t be in such a funk.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 4 Aug. in Proud Highway (1997) 348: I am trying to resist the temptation to go into a funk and quit.
[US]C. McFadden Serial 44: He was already working himself up into a funk.
[US]E. Weiner Howard the Duck 61: Even a duck can only stomp around in a funk for so long.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 131: Joe started at the sagging bunk springs [...] mired in a lovelost funk.
[Aus]T. Winton ‘Boner McPharlin’s Moll’ in Turning (2005) 278: When I got back [...] my parents were in a total funk.
[US]T. Dorsey Atomic Lobster 95: I have to get my mind off this, or a major funk is brewing.
[US]P. Beatty Sellout (2016) 49: Foy, flat broke and embarrassed, called to ask my dad to nigger-whisper him out of his suicidal funk.

3. a coward.

[UK]Wild Boys of London I 45/1: If the Mongrel there had half your nerve he could make a fortune, for he’s the most infernal funk alive.
[UK]‘F. Anstey’ Vice Versa (1931) 78: They were neither of them funks, of course, but they lost their heads.
[UK]Kipling ‘Stalky’ in Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) 13: Oh, you’re a beastly funk!
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 6 Apr. 424: I felt an awful ‘funk’ when I heard the bullets whizzing round me.
[UK]A. Lunn Harrovians 54: In school stories a footer funk is the object of univeral scorn.
[UK]Boys’ Realm 16 Jan. 270: I know you now for what you are! You dirty funk!
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[UK]P. Hamilton To The Public Danger 68: You’re not going to be a little funk, are you, Nancy?
[UK]P. Pringle Boy’s Book of Cricket 26: That would look like running away – as if he was a funk.
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 168: I’m such a funk I’m always scared it’s an enemy telephoning me.
[UK]‘Frank Richards’ Billy Bunter at Butlins 41: Why, you fat, foozling funk [...] You were scared stiff behind that tree.
[UK]‘John le Carré’ Smiley’s People 161: ‘The leech tries to fool me, of course. That’s because he’s a funk.’.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 167: Other variations, chiefly British, include a funk, which is a coward.

4. (Aus./US Und.) an informer.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 July 39/1: ‘But I’ve seen him up against some pretty rough bits in my time, an’ I don’t reckon he’s a funk. He may be everythin’ else, sir; but I can’t think he’ll give the other chaps away.’.

5. (US tramp) a sneak thief.

[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 447: Funk, A sneak thief.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks 43/2: Funk [...] an unprincipled thief.

6. see Peter Funk n. (1)

In compounds

funkhole (n.) (also funkpit)

(orig. milit.) anywhere one can hide.

[[US]J.R. Shaw Life and Travels 66: There is a hole in ground on one side of the barracks, called Stophel Funk’s hole, that never could be closed].
[UK]Daily News 20 Nov. 3/2: The Funk Holes which the besieged residents had mined in the river bank.
[UK]‘New Church’ Times 29 May (2006) 86: Buy One of Our Up-to-date 17in Proof Funk-holes. Nobody Should Be Without One.
[Aus]R.D. Doughty diary 24 Feb. [Internet] Had to get all the gun crews into funk pits while the Major, Richardson and myself beat a hasty retreat.
[UK]A.G. Empey Over the Top ‘Tommy’s Dict. of the Trenches’ 292: ‘Funk Hole.’ Tommy’s term for a dugout. A favorite spot for those of a nervous disposition.
[UK]F. Dunham diary 29 Nov. Long Carry (1970) 96: ‘Toby’ Martin and I spent some time digging ourselves a good funk hole.
[UK](con. WWI) E. Lynch Somme Mud 298: From the bottom of my own private funk hole.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: funk hole. A Government job or similar refuge used by a shirker, especially one anxious to avoid Military Service; recess in a trench, or embankment into which a man could get for partial shelter from shell fire.
[UK]N. Lucas Autobiog. of a Thief 98: The profiteers and arrivées began to come out of their funk-holes.
[UK](con. 1914–18) Brophy & Partridge Songs and Sl. of the British Soldier.
[UK]Swindon Advertiser 6 Dec. 7/4: If [...] the enemy aeroplanes came over and dropped bombs [...] he would go into the nearest funk hole.
[UK] letter in Blake Morrison Things My Mother Never Told Me (2002) 187: Penrith is becoming a real funk-hole.
[UK]J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 140: What’s the matter — do you want it [i.e. a punishment cell] as a funk-hole for yourself?
[SA]P. Baragwanath The Brave Remain 69: Please not here! This is one of my funk-holes. To cause trouble here is to dump refuse in my room.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 167: Other variations, chiefly British, include a funk, which is a coward; funkhole, which is a place to hide.

In phrases

on the funk (adj.)

in a bad mood.

[UK]Taunton Courier 19 Dec. 5/1: The London ‘good judges’, as they previously thought themselves, were on the funk.