whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus)




  • To fish for sharks.
  • To steal or obtain through fraud.
  • To play the petty thief; to practice fraud or trickery; to swindle.
  • To live by shifts and stratagems.
  • To pick or gather indiscriminately or covertly.


Similar words


  • From Middle English shark (used by Thomas Beckington in 1442 to refer to a kind of fish), of uncertain origin. Most likely from a semantic extension of the German-derived shark, see below. The fish was originally called a dogfish or haye in English and Middle English.
  • Some older dictionaries derived the word from Latin carcharias, carcharus (from Ancient Greek), but admit that "the requisite [Old French] forms intermediate between E. shark and L. carcharus are not found, and it is not certain that the name [shark] was orig. applied to the fish; it may have been first used of a greedy man".
  • Other older authorities speculated that the word might derive from Yucatec Maya xoc ("fish") (), as John Hawkins brought a specimen from the area where Mayan was spoken to England in the 1560s. However, the 1442 use rules out a New World origin for the word.
  • From German Schurke ("scoundrel"); compare Dutch schurk.
  • Probably from the "steal" senses above, but perhaps related to shear. Compare shirk.

Modern English dictionary

Explore and search massive catalog of over 900,000 word meanings.

Word of the Day

Get a curated memorable word every day.

Challenge yourself

Level up your vocabulary by setting personal goals.

And much more

Try out Vedaist now.