Green’s Dictionary of Slang

spunky adj.

[spunk n.]

1. courageous, brave, plucky; usu. of young people and applied equally to either gender; also as adv.; thus spunkiness n.

[Scot]Burns ‘Earnest Cry and Prayer’ in Poetical Works (1871) 15: Erskine, a spunkie norland billie; / True Campbells, Frederick an’ Ilay [...] Arouse my boys! exert your mettle.
[US]T.G. Fessenden ‘Rustic Revel’ Poems (1804) 23: Ralph Rattle, spunky fellow, / Raking round till he is mellow, / Rudely muttering and swearing.
[UK]R. Anderson ‘The Impatient Lassie’ Cumberland Ballads (1805) 19: How neyce the spunky fire it burns.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 24: Poor GEORGY was done up in no time at all, / And his spunkiest backers were forc’d to sing small.
[US]J. Neal Brother Jonathan II 35: Quite a spunky chap.
[US]C.A. Davis Letters of Major J. Downing (1835) 128: He went at it agin as spunky as ever.
[UK]T. Moore in Morn. Chron. 29 May 3: Known for his spunky speculations / In buying up dead reputations.
[UK]‘May Day Morning’ in Capt. Morris’s Songs in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 221: It was May day in the morning so bright, / When I got up so bright and so spunky.
[US]T. Haliburton Letter-bag of the Great Western (1873) 141: If he isn’t clear grit-ginger to the back-bone [...] and spunky as a bull dog, it’s a pity, that’s all.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms.
Woodville Courier (MS) 1 Feb. 1/2: Dat am de spunky nigger, / Dat had dem windy fights, / Wheneber he’s contending / For his own ‘Suddern Rights’.
[US] letter in Silber & Sievens Yankee Correspondence (1996) 62: He is faithful & honest as the sun, smart, spunky, yet respectful & quiet.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 92: He was hopeful, spunky, cautious, and well informed.
[UK]Randiana 62: At each thrust I gave her ladyship she responded with a promptitude, which showed how fresh and spunky her vigorous constitution was.
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 15 Oct. 5: Andy Bohne is a well-knit and spunky little chap, and built from the ground up.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 140: But the Yanky was spunky – with Christian spunkiness.
[US]F.P. Dunne in B.C. Schaaf Mr Dooley’s Chicago (1977) 287: She do have spunk. Oh, ’tis she’s th’ spunky wan.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Nov. 24/2: He is, scientifically, not a top-notcher – he’s merely a good, strong, spunky rough ’un, and there are plenty of his sort there.
[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Bad Boy Abroad 355: ‘I draw the line on Belgian hares [...] by gosh,’ said I, just like that, bristling up to dad real spunky.
[US]P. Kyne Cappy Ricks 307: He’s brainy and spunky and, by thunder, I’m for him.
[US]M. Bodenheim Georgie May 21: Her smile was a spunky tired one.
[US](con. 1917–19) Dos Passos Nineteen Nineteen in USA (1966) 565: That was a mighty spunky thing to do.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 44: Gloria was a very spunky girl.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Focus on Death’ Hollywood Detective Jan. 🌐 Diminutive as a Dresden doll, and spunkier than a regiment of Commandos.
[US]J.T. Farrell ‘Summer Tryout’ Amer. Dream Girl (1950) 33: She seemed very fresh and young and spunky.
[US]A. Zugsmith Beat Generation 100: Spunky, able to hold her own, Georgia greeted him impudently.
[US](con. 1940s) M. Dibner Admiral (1968) 44: The spunky Limey admiral, Tom Phillips.
[UK]P. Theroux Murder in Mount Holly (1999) 43: Mr Gibbon said that he liked spunky women and asked Herbie if his mother was spunky.
[US]G. Tate ‘Wynton Marsalis’ Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 46: Much less the cocky wunderkind he seemed with Art Blakey – where his spunky, spontaneous replications of Freddie Hubbard and especially Lee Morgan evoked welcome nostalgia.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 476: Inez Soto was a spunky hard-luck girl.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 281: Reprise, currently enjoying a good run of form with a spunky roster of modern rock artists.
[UK]M. Rowson Stuff 31: I took an instant dislike to the vision of blond-haired, freckle-faced cutesy spunky childhood it peddled.
[UK]Guardian Mag. 30 Apr. 9/3: That spunky young bin man.

2. (US) aroused, angry; also as adv.

[US]C.A. Davis Letters of Major J. Downing (1835) 72: He was as spunky as thunder; and when a Quaker gits his dander up, it’s like a norwester.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker III 294: She got up and shook her knittin’ at him quite spunky.
[US]Jeffersonian Republican (Stroudsburg, PA) 12 Oct. 3/1: My hoss had his pluck so riz by the flour barls I guved him, and was so oil-fired spunky, that I thought I’d stop to this town [...] to kepe his dandir down.
[US]Durivage & Burnham Stray Subjects (1848) 36: A very spunky and wrathy individual.
[US]W.K. Northall Life and Recollections of Yankee Hill 125: Well, if you’re mind to get spunky, I guess I can git a gal that will let me see her hum.
[US]M.L. Byrn Adventures of Fudge Fumble 38: She was a little ‘spunky’.
[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa (1887) 14: When a boy’s Pa tells him to never you mind, and looks spunky [...] a boy wants to go right away.
[US]B.L. Bowen ‘Word-List From Western New York’ in DN III:vi 449: spunky, adj. Irritable; mettlesome.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 216: spunky, irritable. ‘If I had a kid as spunky as that I’d whip him.’.

3. pertaining to semen.

[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) III 568: No woman ever let me pull her about and look at her cunt, whether it was clean or spunky, more freely than she did.
[UK]‘Lais Lovecock’ Bagnio Misc. 8: A black-haired, rosy-cheeked Adonis called [...] Spunky Tom, because he boasted he could bring as much again as any of them.
[UK]A. Crowley Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden 19: A pretty spunky, turdy, mess!
[UK]Nunnery versus Fuckery 44: He thrust the slim neck of the vase into her spunky twat.
[Scot]I. Welsh Trainspotting 24: The toilet [...] has a good inch ay stagnant, spunky urine covering the flair.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 288: It’s like, all uv ar linked and bonded together through this [sexual] force, this cement . . . liker spunky Artadite it is.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 147: Everyone denied talking about it, like everyone denied talking about spunky cunts.

4. (US) of women, attractive, fashionable.

Dly Press (Newport News, VA) 29 Apr. 5/4: ‘If you can’t [...] get in the game and fall in l.ine with what the spunky women are wearing, and look like something and somebody, why [etc].

5. as a term of address.

[US](con. 1967) E. Spencer Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 78: And clean up the dog shit before you go, spunky.

6. (Aus.) sexy.

[Aus]Ribald (Sydney) #45 23: TWO HORNY guys seek spunky chicks – send frank photo.
[Aus]Lette & Carey Puberty Blues 5: Sue and I checked out the guys. They were spunkier at North Cronulla.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 7: Looking up the leather mini of the spunky little hornbag.
[Aus]Bug (Aus.) 28 Jan. 🌐 I mean we’ve all done it; told our mates we rooted the spunky barmaid down the Rose and the Thorn.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] [of a man] The spunky bass player came up and sat at my table.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 136: There are so many spunky-looking ladies who work in the prison service and are prepared to serve any bloke.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 242: They went there early one morning to evict squatters[...] sleepy, spunky women and dirty-haired men holding at least two guitars.

7. of an object, smart and showy.

[Aus]P. Carey Tax Inspector (1992) 20: A Commodore S.S. [car] with spunky alloy wheels in the shape of a spinning sun.