Green’s Dictionary of Slang

punk n.1

[? SE punch, to pierce and linked to punch v. (1); note Sp. punto, puto, a male prostitute]

1. (also pung, punquetto) a young female prostitute.

[UK] ‘Old Simon the Kinge’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) III 4: Soe fellowes, if you be drunke, / of ffrailtye itt is a sinne, / as itt is to keepe a puncke.
[UK]Jeronimo in Dodsley IV (1874) 358: Chink / Makes the punk wanton and the bawd to wink.
[UK]Shakespeare Measure for Measure V i: She may be a punk; for many of them are neither maid, widow, nor wife.
[UK]Middleton Michaelmas Term III i: salewood: Is she but your underput, Master Lethe? lethe: No more [...] I may grace her with the name of a courtesan, a backslider, a prostitution, or such a toy; but [...] ’tis but a plain pung.
[UK]Jonson Bartholomew Fair II ii: The drunkards they are wading, / The punks and chapmen trading.
[UK]G. Peele Merrie Conceited Jests 17: How George Gulled a Punk, otherwise called a croshabell.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Taylors Motto’ in Works (1869) II 49: A Gallant drinkes a health vnto his Punke.
[UK]R. Brome New Academy I i: Your privy lodgings for your trunks and punks.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 26 22–30 Nov. 225: Where many a Whore, a Bawde, a Punk, / She may traine up, to make them drunk.
[UK] ‘Old England turned New’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 266: New captains are come that never did fight, / But with pots in the day, and Punks in the Night.
[UK]‘L.B.’ New Academy of Complements 173: The Pimp, the Punk, and the Doctor are three / Which cannot but thrive when united they be. / The Pimp brings in custom, the Punk she gets treasures / Of which the Physician is sure of his measure, / For work which she makes him in sale of her pleasure.
[UK] ‘Satire’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1968) V 385: Papillion pimp’d with a punk away.
[UK]N. Ward ‘A Satyr upon Derby-Ale’ in Writings (1704) 34: One hearty Draught prepares for Pipe of Funk, / Three Tankards whets my Appetite for Punk.
[UK]A great & famous scoldling-match 3: Out upon you, you old fulsom Punk you.
[UK] ‘Would You Have a Young Virgin’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) I 209: Do ye fancy a Punk of a Humour free, / That’s kept by a Fumbler of Quality.
[UK]W. King York Spy 11: As fast as a Citizen’s Punk does [...] when treated by her Stallion.
[UK] ‘The Saint turn’d Sinner’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 32: Whose Business ’tis to catch Men, / In leudness with a Punk.
[UK]Laugh and Be Fat 105: Near to the Rose, where Punks in Number flock / To pick up Cullies to increase their Stock.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. n.p.: Punk a little Whore.
[UK]Poor Robin n.p.: Some gallants will this month be so penurious that they will not part with a crackd groat to a poor body, but on their cockatrice or punquetto will bestow half a dozen taffety gowns, who in requittal bestows on him the French pox [F&H].
C. Churchill The Times 30: Give him no Tutor — throw him to a punk, / Rather than trust his morals to a Monk.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 21: By Jove, says he, thou’rt always drunk, / And always squabbling for a punk.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘The Lousiad’ Works (1794) I 271: When bawd, meets bawd, blaspheming, swearing, drunk, Pimp knocks down pimp, and punk abuses punk.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 226: The punk / Had made the bullying scoundrel drunk.
[UK]J. Bell Jr. (ed.) Rhymes of Northern Bards 254: Vassals of vicious invention / A pander, two punks, and a priest / Their pastimes and sports are pollution, / Each minx is unmarry’d - each man prefers to his spouse prostitution.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK] ‘The Fancy’ in Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 7: Do you fancy a punk of a humor free, / That’s kept by a fumbler of quality.
[UK]New Swell’s Night Guide to the Bowers of Venus 20: Well satisfied ye seek the ‘truckle bed,’ or ‘stagger to some punk’.
[US] ‘Scene in a London Flash-Panny’ Matsell Vocabulum 100: Mizzle, you punk.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) VI 1273: At London I at first took fancy again for women in the suburbs, punks who would let me have them for half a crown.
[UK]A. Crowley Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden 5: The crapulous punk whom he also speaks of in the following pages under the pseudonym of ‘Sal B.....s’.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 380: Some randy quip he had from a punk or whatnot that every mother’s son of them would burst their sides.
[US]M. Levin Reporter 312: The poor hunky [...] can’t even speak English and hasn’t even enough guts to accost a punk on Madison Street.
[US]R. Todasco Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Dirty Words.

2. (UK Und.) a girlfriend.

[UK]‘Cock-Eyed Sukey’ in Cove in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 219: Tho’ trapsmen roar, yet free from harms, / William shall sneak home to his punk.

3. (US prison, also jailhouse punk, penitentiary punk, punkie) a young inmate used for sex by older, stronger peers; thus an inmate’s ‘boyfriend’ or ‘wife’; thus punkfucker, the active partner in such a relationship; punk tank, a segration zone for punks in a prison; similarly used by US tramps.

[ ‘The Women’s Complaint to Venus’ [broadside ballad] The Beaus too, whom most we rely’d on / At Night make a punk / Of him that’s first drunk].
[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 251: Punk. a pervert.
[US]A. Berkman Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1926) 170: ‘He’s neither man nor woman; he’s punk.’ Well, Billy knew. A punk’s a boy that’ll... [...] give himself to a man.
[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 71: I thought he must be a bit queer sexually [...] a punk or some kind of fruit.
[US]J. Fishman Sex in Prison 59: They are of the passive type, known variously as ‘punks,’ ‘girls,’ ‘fags,’ ‘pansies,’ or ‘fairies,’ as distinguished from their inmates who take advantage of their favors, that is the active participants. These are known in prison slang as ‘top men’ or ‘wolves’.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 15: A punk, if you want it in plain English, is a boy with smooth skin who takes the place of a woman in a jailbird’s life.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 99: I’ve seen the patient papas carrying sacks of canteen stuff for their boys — also known as bronchos, gunsels [...] and, mostly, punks.
V. Hallinan Lion in Court 305: When the prisoner graduates into the adult prison he arrives accompanied by the reputation of a ‘jailhouse punk’, and becomes fair game for older [...] prisoners.
[US]B. Jackson Thief’s Primer 39: There are three basic participating sexual roles in prisons for men: stud [...] punk (penitentiary punk, penitentiary turnout, kid; the person who plays the ‘passive’ or insertee role and who adopts that role in prison only). [Ibid.] 174: My fall partner was a notorious punkfucker in the penitentiary. [Ibid.] 175: When they get caught, the boss will usually shift one [...] and put the other one in the punk tank. They’ll put him in there and he’ll be just as happy as he was.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 45: Any boy under the age of consent [...] punkie (’40s-early ‘50s).
Williams & Fish Convicts, Codes & Contraband 61: The hacks would hear about it and they would put Tico on A-l tier where all the faggots were, and he'd be a jailhouse punk.
[US]M. Braly False Starts 105: Bob had become a commissary punk, a boy literally bought by a wealthy convict for the extra food and few luxuries he’s able to provide. The commissary punk is not a homosexual and doesn’t necessarily like his work.
P. Hamill Flesh & Blood 30: They gonna come on strong, the Fagola Army, and try and make you a jailhouse punk. Buy your ass with a pack of smokes.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 158: Dat happen a lot in jail. Turn a dude into a freak. Make a woman outa him. Like some men thank they women, I cain’t stand dem punks.
Stone & Hirliman Hate Factory 42: If you don’t stand up to them now, they’re gonna go ahead and fuck you and you’re gonna end up a jailhouse punk; [...] I seen a lot of white boys get fucked by the blacks and the Chicanos.
[US]S.L. Hills Tragic Magic 126: Punk, you gonna be mine, you gonna be my wife.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 74: A punk [...] is someone you make suck your dick and lick it clean. Over time you got yourself what we call a punk-ass bitch. He wants to suck dick.
R. Williams Night Hunter [ebook] He said you was a jailhouse punk up at Brushy and worked as a male whore while you lived in Denver. He let on how you was a faggot and just hang around women to put up a front.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 114: You are not a badass, my friend. You are, at best, a punk.
in G. Adelsberg et al. (eds) Death and Other Penalties 228: I was put in solitary confinement for protection, so said the officials. I was being punished for not wanting to be a jailhouse punk.
[US]Mother Jones July/Aug. [Internet] Once a punk, always a punk. Miss Carter [...] told us she's seen just two inmates reverse their punk status in the eight years she's been here, and both cases involved stabbing a lot of people.

4. (US) a tramp’s younger companion; usu. a catamite.

[US]J. London Road 173: A boy on The Road, on the other hand, no matter how green he is, is never a gay-cat; he is a road-kid or a ‘punk,’ and if he travels with a ‘profesh,’ he is known possessively as a ‘prushun.’.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ Mother of the Hoboes 44: The Rating Of The Tramps 46 Punk: youth not yet adopted by jocker.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 111: Formerly kegs of beer were rolled into the jungle and the ‘punks,’ young bums, were sent for ‘mickies,’ bottles of alcohol. ‘Mulligans’ of chicken or beef were put to cooking on big fires.
[US]G. Milburn ‘The Big Rock Candy Mountains’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 62: The punk rolled up his big blue eyes, / And he said to the jocker, ‘Sandy, / I’ve hiked and hiked and counted ties, / But I ain’t seen no candy’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 4: You and me rubber-tramp it together, but that doesn’t make me your punk.
[Can]O.D. Brooks Legs 3: ‘Yuh think yur pretty goddamn smart for a punk that hasn’t stopped shittin’ yellow yet,’ he snarled.
[US]D.H. Sterry Chicken (2003) 10: He’s calling me a punk and a bitch and a faggot as he rapes me.

5. a general term of disparagement.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 67: (Cartoonist TAD Shows How A Piker Feels When The First Race Takes His Dollar) The poor punk that lost.
[US]E.E. Cummings in Dupee & Stade Sel. Letters (1972) 26: By failing to get up at the hour of 5.45 AM I escaped departing with the bums mutts and jeffs (not to say ginks, slobs, and punks) who came over with us.
[US]Appleton Post-Crescent (WI) 10 May 13/6–7: Flapper Dictionary punk – Any sort of undesirable.
[UK]D. Ahearn Confessions of a Gunman 28: I wouldn’t work with a guy that’s known as a punk or a rat. I hate them. [...] The Police Department have them on their payrolls.
[US](con. 1917–19) Dos Passos Nineteen Nineteen in USA (1966) 377: The runner was a pale ratfaced punk.
[US]J.M. Cain Mildred Pierce (1985) 489: You start out a Wunderkind, then find out you’re just a goddam punk.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 44: Can you imagine a Harlem punk going downtown and paying twenty bucks for an imported hunter’s knife.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 6 Nov. in Proud Highway (1997) 411: A watery gang of punks with body odor and double-breasted suits.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 103: The detectives are going to be mad as hell. They really wanted us to hold onto this punk.
[UK]A-Team Storybook 56: What you’ve got to ask yourself, punk, is ‘Do I feel stupid?’.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 34: ‘I know the drill.’ ‘Shut up, punk.’.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 7: The punk was Lee Harvey Oswald. The punk shot JFK and Tippit.
[US]D. Winslow Winter of Frankie Machine (2007) 95: There is the dumb little punk, with his dumber wingman.

6. (US) a person, irrespective of character.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 124: All kinds of swell punks wid dere gals downstairs.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Feature Snatch!’ Dan Turner - Hollywood Detective Feb. [Internet] The jockey-sized punk panted up to me.

7. (US, also punkie, punky) a young criminal or street gang member.

[US]Wash. Times (DC) 14 Sept. 10/4: Punk – A boy criminal.
[US]Tacoma Times (Wash.) 7 June 3/3: They recognized in me a ‘punk’ or greenhorn who was willing to learn [...] they were known thieves.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 31: If I catch y’ smiling at dat punk [...] I’ll bust y’ one in the mug.
C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: ‘Next time I catch one of your punks around here you pick him up at the morgue’.
[US]C.W. Willemse Cop Remembers 285: Send for their parents. No rough stuff. Just young punks on their first tumble.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 210: Screwy punks and tough punks, wise punks and dumb punks, dirty punks and clean punks, little punks and big punks, skinny punks and fat punks: here comes the wagon and we’ll all take a ride.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 78: They were a bunch of punks, always making trouble.
[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 35: I don’t back off for no man, specially not that punky.
[US]H. Ellison ‘No Game for Children’ in Gentleman Junkie (1961) 78: This wasn’t some stud punkie from uptown.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 94: Teen-age girls [...] soon found themselves romantically overwhelmed by the flashy aura which surrounded the young ‘punks’.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 57: I was just a hep punk.
[US](con. 1960s) R. Price Wanderers 10: The guys on Lester Avenue were all ex-cons or Mafia punks.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 17: I’m not giving way for any street punks!
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 99: If the wrong cop finds those punks with the diamond [...] he’ll trace the ice to the shvartze.
[US]G.V. Higgins At End of Day (2001) 34: Some young punk put a bullet in him.

8. an adolescent boy.

[US]Ogden Standard (UT) 28 Apr. 22/1: The ‘young punk’ is a boy between 16 and 21 years old, awkward, callow, hoarse-voiced, inconceivably untidy, more inconceivably rude and [...] conceited.
[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 12/1: Punk – Child in show business.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 338: Everyone in the joint was probably a boy scout when he was a punk.
[US]F. Brown Dead Ringer 26: I was just a carney punk with eighteen bucks in my pocket and to my name.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 179: That’s how a lot of these neighbourhood punks feel.
[US]J. Hersey Algiers Motel Incident 105: Little punk, eighteen years old when he started out.
[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 58: Could you tell me just what you think of these two punks here who got you into all this?
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 72: My brother was a punk, but he got around.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 26 June 9: Teenage punk dreams turned real and wreathed in gunsmoke.
[UK]Guardian G2 21 Feb. 22: ‘You listen to me, you young punk’, he told Michael.

9. a youngster, a child.

[US]D. Runyon ‘Gentlemen, the King!’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 179: This is a pretty fresh punk.
[US]J.E. Dadswell Hey, Sucker 96: punk ... boy or girl with the show.

10. (US/W.I.) a coward, a weakling.

[UK]D. Ahearn How to Commit a Murder 224: Sing a song, you punk, you.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 159: ‘Don’t know who you’re fighting yet?’ [...] ‘B-be someone g-good, of c-course,’ said Ernie. ‘Yeah,’ boasted Tommy. ‘They don’t have no punks on there.’.
[US]H. McCoy Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in Four Novels (1983) 105: Toko a murderer; that punk ranked in the First ten, a mad-dog killer. I damn near laughed out loud.
[US]Kramer & Karr Teen-Age Gangs 46: Any boy was called a chicken – a coward – who failed to retaliate lost pride and position. To be called a punk was even worse. It meant general worthlessness and in addition cowardice.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 196: Abruptly he cursed himself for being a punk.
[US](con. 1950s) D. Goines Whoreson 75: Now I was flipping over to punk’s role.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 127: Dude’ll turn you out if you let ’im. Make a punk outa ’im.
[US]G. Sikes 8 Ball Chicks (1998) 44: My mama put the heart in me, she’s the one who took all the fear out of me. She said, ‘Don’t be no punk.’.
[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] punk Definition: 1. [...] a snitch, a coward, a weak and/or scared person who pretends that he is strong and/or brave, etc. [...] Example 1: Hey, I’m-a put you on yo back cuz you a mark-ass, punk muthafuckah.
[US](con. 1990s) in J. Miller One of the Guys 75: ‘If you’re a punk, or if you scared of stuff like that [i.e. violence], then don’t join’.
[US]W. Henderson City of Nightmares pt 2 v: When you pop your shots in the street it was fun, / got to use your hands now punk ain’t got no guns.

11. (US) a male homosexual.

[US]Kerouac letter 6 Sept. in Charters I (1995) 94: I know you don’t represent the average intellectual softy. Or punk.
[US]A. Baraka Slave in Three Negro Plays (1969) Act I: When we used to chase that kind of frail little sissy-punk down Raymond Boulevard.
[US](con. 1950s) D. Goines Whoreson 181: Punks went to work with their hands and lips.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 161: Like some men dey jus’ like bitches. Dem punks is righteously fucked up in dey haid. Dey more like women den a young lady.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 146: I’m no fruiter . . . no faggot . . . no punk.

12. (US) a sexually forward teenage girl.

[US]S. Bellow Augie March (1996) 86: The hot little punks I see around the street – just pass them by.

13. (US, also punkie) a male prostitute.

[US]A. Reiss in Cressey & Ward Delinquency, Crime, and Social Process (1969) 1002: All but those who had the status of ‘punks’ denied they had engaged in behaviour associated with the queer role.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 28: You’ll become part of the 42nd Street army of punks [...] everybody’s had you: the day’ll come nobody wants you.
[US]K. Worthy Homosexual Generation Ch. xvi: Punkies: Young homosexuals, 14 to 20 years old, who are new at the game.
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 437: ’Fraid I was goin to make a punk uh yuh? You crazy fuckin Swedish peapicker, crawlin your little ass out of bed actin like I was some kind of queer.

In derivatives

punkerino (adj.)

(US) useless, second-rate; also as n. a second-rate individual or object.

[US]Spokane Press (WA) 17 June 4/3: His work as referee was very much of the punkerino order.
[US]Sun (NY) 20 June 35/4: I can see right now in my mind’s eye the kind of a punkerino dinner we’ll get.
[US]Eve. Star (Wash., DC) 11 Sept. 20/2: They’re there with the big-noise mitt for the goody folks and the hiss-ss-ss thing for the punkerinos and the briny gag for the choky passages.
[US]Mexico Missouri Messenger (MO) 23 July 3/1: Etta Gaylord — ‘Didn’t you ever hear it, Tom? Awful!’ Tom Frazee — ‘So the boy’a a song is a punkerino, eh?’.
Great Falls Dly Trib. (MT) 27 Apr. 5/2: They don’t want to smoke anything that tastes like real Havana today and punkerino tomorrow.
punkish (adj.)

1. showy, flashy.

[UK]Passenger of Benvenuto n.p.: If I should briefly tell thee, what punkish art derived from her progenitors his light-skirts used towards me, thou wouldst laugh [N].
[UK]T. Adams Plain-Dealing in Works (1861) I 28: These punkish outsides beguile the needy traveller [...] Such a house is like a painted whore; it hath a fair cheek, but rotten lungs ; no breath of charity comes out of it .

2. (US) weak, effeminate.

[US](con. 1969–70) D. Bodey F.N.G. (1988) 239: He’s the best read of anyone I’ve met over here, and it seems like he might have been a little punkish before he got here.

In compounds

punk-ass (n.) [-ass sfx]

(US) a general term of abuse.

[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 42: punk ass A sissy. A pooh butt. A mo.
[US]Too $hort ‘Cusswords’ [lyrics] You little punk-ass boy, wouldn’t listen to me.
[US]L. Rodríguez Always Running (1996) 50: He say you are a punk-ass puto.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 17 July 4: You punk-ass.
punk-ass (adj.) [-ass sfx] (US)

1. of a person, object or situation, useless, second-rate, worthless.

[US]T. Thackrey Thief 146: What was I – a punkass kid driving a truck.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 178: Punk ass! Gets high an’ flakes! Why get high when you gonna flake?
[US]K. Scott Monster (1994) 145: Yo’ punk-ass homies blasted me up.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 15: Kansas, hey, dawg — you gonna let this punk-ass nigger dis us, bro?

2. young, immature.

[US]T. Thackrey Thief 27: They pull some punk-ass kid stunt.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 5: A punk-ass kid I was, but I looked it over.
[US]‘Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 23: You see, you little punk ass nigger there’s a lot of players, pimps, and hustlers but there ain’t no master pimp.
[US]G. Pelecanos Soul Circus 316: You punk-ass motherfuckers out here, think you can threaten a police officer.
punk-master (n.)

a pimp.

[UK]Jonson Alchemist IV iii: This is a travelled punk-master, and does know / All the delays.
punk-out (n.)

see separate entry.

punk pills (n.) [i.e. their creation of artificial courage]

(drugs) any form of tranquillizer.

[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
punk-simple (adj.) [-simple sfx (1)]

(US prison) obsessed with young homosexual boys.

[US]T. Runyon In For Life 270: All nut doctors are the same [...] They just want to know if you play with yourself or if you’re punk-simple.
punk’s run (n.) [pun on SE chicken run]

(US prison) the protective custody unit for those whose lives would be at risk if they were kept with the prison population as a whole.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 50: Punk’s Run A protective custody unit.

In phrases

ride punk (v.)

(US black/teen) to sit in the middle of the back seat in a car.

[US]E. Folb Urban Black Argot 144: Ride Pussy / Punk / the Bitch’s Seat to ride in the front of the car between two other males.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 162: To ride pussy/punk/the bitch’s seat defines a manipulative ploy whereby a young man finds himself [...] forced to ride in a car ‘on the hump,’ where the woman is supposed to ride.