Ongoing History Daily: The history of the word “punk” part 2
Last time, we explored the earliest use of the word “punk,” which turned out to be in an old English ballad composed around 1575 and then used by Shakespeare about 30 years later. In both cases, “puncke” was a term for a female prostitute. So how the word morph from that to being about music?
We have a few more steps to go. In the late 17th century, a “punk” came to mean a boy kept around by an older man for sex. By the time we got into the 18th century, it was slang in American prisons for inmates that were used for sex. In the 20th century, a punk was any sort of worthless, degenerate, weak, and contemptible person. Then in the 50s, a “punk” was both some kind of inexperienced young person and a juvenile delinquent and troublemaker. But we still haven’t got to the point where punk referred to music.
We’ll sort that out next time.