wank

Definitions

Slang

  • verb to masturbate. This very widespread vulgarism (with some recent exceptions, still taboo in the printed and broadcast media) is, perhaps surprisingly, of obscure origin. It seems to have entered the spoken language in the late 19th century, significantly at a time when the word whang was emerging as a vulgar term for the penis. Wank (earlier spelled ‘whank’) is probably derived from the same source; ‘whang’ as a dialect word first meaning hit, beat or slap. Wank may simply be a variant pronunciation or a development of the earlier word, influenced by ‘whack’ and ‘yank’. Since the 1960s the word has been used of and by women as well as men.
  • verb to behave in an ostentatious, self-indulgent and/or futile manner. A usage deriving from the interpretation of masturbation as purposeless and/or offensive.
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