One entry found for spunk.
Main Entry: spunk
Pronunciation: primarystressspschwaengk
Function: noun
Etymology: from earlier spunk "tinder," from Scottish Gaelic spong "sponge, tinder," from Latin spongia "sponge"
1 : COURAGE, PLUCK
2 : 1SPIRIT 4
Word History Spunk now means "spirit, readiness to fight against odds, courage." It is somewhat surprising to learn that it comes from a Latin word for something that seems quite the opposite: "sponge." The Latin word for "sponge," spongia, came into Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language of the Scottish Highlands, as spong and meant "sponge." But it also came to mean "tinder," the light, dry material used to start a fire. Tinder was often dry, spongy wood that would ignite easily and looked like sponge. A person who fought courageously and without complaining, especially against strong opponents, was thought of as catching fire. This flaring up of the human spirit was compared to the bursting into flame of tinder. Thus, a person who had this quality was said to have spunk.


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