General English

Cars & Driving

  • noun a tool for making holes or driving out bolts, rivets and pins.


  • A small pointed tool which is struck with a hammer and usedfor centering and starting holes.
  • A steel tool, usually cylindrical, with sharpened edges and used in a hydraulic machine to make holes through metal.


  • noun an attacking batting stroke in which the ball is hit hard and low with a straight bat; the emphasis is on power rather than elegance, and the shot is usually played without much follow-through
    Citation ‘Of all his strokes, the punch square on the offside, off the back foot, must have been the most prolific in terms of boundaries’ (Robin Marlar, Sportstar [Chennai] 4 June 1994)
    Citation ‘On a pitch where the pace and bounce are true, it’s better to cut with a horizontal bat and avoid the back-foot punch’ (Virender Sehwag, Cricinfo Magazine January 2006)
  • verb to hit the ball hard and low with a straight bat and without much follow-through
    Citation ‘Drives he punched with plenty of bottom hand, although one has strong recollections of Border cutting loose when on top of the bowlers and in that mood leaning back and letting the bat flow away from the body’ (Robin Marlar, Sportstar [Chennai] 4 June 1994)
    Citation ‘His progress here should have been arrested at 21 when he punched Jones at knee height to Pietersen at short cover’ (Haigh 2005)


  • A tool utilized for stamping a design onto a surface, forcing an object or material into or out of a hole, or that pierces or cuts materials or objects.
  • A device which punches holes in punched cards.


  • verb to fold dough and beat it with your fist to expel air

Information & Library Science

  • verb to make holes in something so that it can be inserted into a ring file


  • noun a device for making the matrix from which type is cast. The punch is a steel stamp with the letter cut into it in relief; this is then pressed into a metal alloy, which becomes the matrix.
  • verb to hit something hard


  • verb to strike someone or something with the fist, e.g. in boxing or martial arts


  • noun a drink made with a mixture of fruit juice, spices, and often wine or spirits, usually served hot

Origin & History of “punch”

English has three distinct words punch, not counting the capitalized character in the Punch and Judy show, but two of them are probably ultimately related. Punch ‘hit’ (14th c.) originated as a variant of middle English pounce ‘pierce, prod’. this came from Old French poinsonner ‘prick, stamp’, a derivative of the noun poinson ‘pointed tool’ (source of the now obsolete English puncheon ‘pointed tool’ (14th c.)). And poinson in turn came from vulgar Latin *punctiō, a derivative of *punctiāre ‘pierce, prick’, which went back to the past participle of Latin pungere ‘prick’ (source of English point, punctuation, etc). Punch ‘tool for making holes’ (15th c.) (as in ‘ticket punch’) probably originated as an abbreviated version of puncheon.

Punch ‘drink’ (17th c.) is said to come from Hindi pānch, a descendant of Sanskrit pan̄chan ‘five’, an allusion to the fact that the drink is traditionally made from five ingredients: spirits, water, lemon juice, sugar, and spice. This has never been definitely established, however, and an alternative possibility is that it is an abbreviation of puncheon ‘barrel’ (15th c.), a word of uncertain origin.

The name of Mr Punch (17th c.) is short for Punchinello, which comes from a Neapolitan dialect word polecenella. This may have been a diminutive of Italian polecena ‘young turkey’, which goes back ultimately to Latin pullus ‘young animal, young chicken’ (source of English poultry). It is presumably an allusion to Punch’s beaklike nose.