Definitions

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

  • n. Informal Spirit; pluck.
  • n. Punk, touchwood, or other tinder.
  • n. Vulgar Slang Ejaculated semen.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A spark.
  • n. Touchwood; tinder.
  • n. A piece of tinder, sometimes impregnated with sulphur; a match.
  • n. Courage; spirit; mettle; determination.
  • n. An attractive person (normally male).
  • n. Male ejaculate; semen.
  • v. To ejaculate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Wood that readily takes fire; touchwood; also, a kind of tinder made from a species of fungus; punk; amadou.
  • n. An inflammable temper; spirit; mettle; pluck.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To kindle; show a flame or spark: used in phrases.
  • n. Touchwood; tinder; a kind of tinder made from a species of fungus; amadou. Also called punk.
  • n. A very small fire; a fiery spark or small flame; also, a lucifer match.
  • n. Mettle; spirit; pluck; obstinate resistance to yielding.

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

  • n. the courage to carry on
  • n. material for starting a fire

Etymologies

Scottish Gaelic spong, tinder, from Latin spongia, sponge; see sponge.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1530, blend of spark and funk (obsolete, "spark"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "My friend," she began, with a new note of impressiveness in her voice, "if you'll pardon my saying it, you haven't got the spunk of a mouse."

    - Harold Frederic, The Damnation of Theron Ware, ch. 14

    August 2, 2008

  • also see moxie

    July 22, 2008

  • In UK it's another vernacular name for semen.

    July 14, 2008

  • In Australia in the 80's, synonymous with hunk. A sexually desirable man. E.g. "hey Brenda, cop an eyeful of Shane in his speedos, ain't he a spunk?"

    November 13, 2007