Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mischievous trick or practical joke.
  • transitive v. To decorate or dress ostentatiously or gaudily.
  • intransitive v. To make an ostentatious display.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An evil deed; a malicious trick, an act of cruel deception.
  • n. A practical joke or mischievous trick.
  • v. To adorn in a showy manner; to dress or equip ostentatiously.
  • v. To perform a practical joke on; to trick.
  • v. To call someone's phone and promptly hang up
  • adj. Full of gambols or tricks.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Full of gambols or tricks.
  • n. A gay or sportive action; a ludicrous, merry, or mischievous trick; a caper; a frolic.
  • intransitive v. To make ostentatious show.
  • transitive v. To adorn in a showy manner; to dress or equip ostentatiously; -- often followed by up. See prink.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To decorate; adorn; deck; especially, to deck out in a showy manner.
  • To adjust; set in order.
  • To present a showy or gaudy appearance; make a brilliant show.
  • To be crafty or subtle.
  • n. A playful or mischievous act; a trick played sometimes in malice, but more commonly in sport; an escapade; a gambol.
  • n. Synonyms Whim, etc. (see freak), antic, vagary.
  • Frolicsome; mischievous.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. dress or decorate showily or gaudily
  • n. a ludicrous or grotesque act done for fun and amusement
  • n. acting like a clown or buffoon
  • v. dress up showily

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
From Middle English pranken, to show off, perhaps from Middle Dutch pronken (from pronk, show, display) and from Middle Low German prunken (from prank, display).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English pranken ("to adorn, arrange one's attire"), probably from Middle Dutch pronken, proncken ("to flaunt, make a show, arrange one's attire"). Cognate with Middle Low German prunken ("to flaunt"), German prunken ("to flaunt"), Danish prunke ("to make a show, prank"). Connected also with German prangen ("to make a show, be resplendent"), Dutch prangen ("to squeeze, press"), Danish pragt ("pomp, splendor"), all from Proto-Germanic *pranganan, *prangijanan, *prag- (“to press, squeeze, thring”), from Proto-Indo-European *brAngh- (“to press, squeeze”). Sense of "mischievous act" from earlier verbal sense of "to be crafty or subtle, set in order, adjust". See also prink, prance. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Your uncle, the mercer, regaled us yesterday with a fête champêtre, and paid the piper handsomely. There were ten of the best grown boys, and ten young girls, dressed out in pastoral weeds; all the frippery in his shop was brought out to prank them up.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 2 ch. 9

    September 13, 2008

  • For he rolls upon prank to work it in. from Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno ... clearly used in a more antique sense ... what is it?

    and also ... Let Anna bless God with the Cat, who is worthy to be presented before the throne of grace, when he has trampled upon the idol in his prank.

    December 31, 2007