a. Having a moldy or musty smell: funky cheese; funky cellars.
b. Having a strong, offensive, unwashed odor.
a. Of or relating to music that has an earthy quality reminiscent of the blues.
b. Combining elements of jazz, blues, and soul and characterized by syncopated rhythm and a heavy, repetitive bass line.
- Slang Earthy and uncomplicated; natural: “At the opposite end of Dallas's culinary spectrum is funky regional fare” (Jacqueline Friedrich).
a. Characterized by originality and modishness; unconventional: “a bizarre, funky [hotel ] dressed up as a ship, with mock portholes and mirrored ceilings over the beds” (Ann Louise Bardach).
b. Outlandishly vulgar or eccentric in a humorous or tongue-in-cheek manner; campy: “funky caricatures of sexpot glamour” (Pauline Kael).
Origin: From funk, strong smell, tobacco smoke
Origin: , perhaps from French dialectal funquer, to give off smoke
Origin: , from Old French fungier
Origin: , from Latin fūmigāre; see fumigate
Related Forms:Word History:
When asked which words in the English language are the most difficult to define precisely, a lexicographer would surely mention funky.
Linguist Geneva Smitherman has tried to capture the meaning of this word in Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black America,
where she explains that funky
means “[related to] the blue notes or blue mood created in jazz, blues, and soul music generally, down-to-earth soulfully expressed sounds; by extension [related to] the real nitty-gritty or fundamental essence of life, soul to the max.” The first recorded use of funky
is in 1784 in a reference to musty, old, moldy cheese. Funky
then developed the sense “smelling strong or bad” and could be used to describe body odor. The application of funky
to jazz was explained in 1959 by one F. Newton in Jazz Scene:
“Critics are on the search for something a little more like the old, original, passion-laden blues: the trade-name which has been suggested for it is ‘funky’ (literally: ‘smelly,’ i.e. symbolizing the return from the upper atmosphere to the physical, down-to-earth reality).”