• skulk •
Pronunciation: skêlk • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive
Meaning: 1. To move about sneakily, trying not to be seen. 2. To lurk out of sight in a cowardly, resentful, and rather sinister way.
Notes: This word is easy to spell. Just remember that both the [k] sounds are spelled K: it is a rarity to find a word spelled so consistently in English. The noun and adjective are both skulking. Don't confuse this word with sulk "to be withdrawn and sullen". Sulking does not involve resentment or anything sinister as does skulking.
In Play: Skulking first and foremost arises from resentment: "Denny Graden has been skulking around Fictitia's office since she started going out with Manley Hunter." However, skullduggery (unrelated) could just as well motivate skulking: "I called 911 when I saw a tattooed man with spiked hair and a half pound of scrap metal in his face skulking about outside my house."
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Old Norse during the Viking visits to the coasts of England in the 9th-10th centuries. Norwegian still uses skulka "to skulk, shirk, skip work or school". In Danish we find skulke and Swedish skolka with more or less the same meaning. No one knows where the Scandinavians got this word. It might have come from a long lost blend of two other words, but who knows.