from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A tool for circular or other piercing.
  • noun A tool for forcing a pin, bolt, or rivet in or out of a hole.
  • noun A tool for stamping a design on a surface.
  • noun A tool for making a countersink.
  • intransitive verb To make (a hole or opening), as by using a punch or similar implement.
  • intransitive verb To pierce something; make a hole or opening.
  • transitive verb To hit with a sharp blow of the fist.
  • transitive verb To drive (the fist) into or through something.
  • transitive verb To drive (a ball, for example) with the fist.
  • transitive verb To make (a hole) by thrusting the fist.
  • transitive verb Archaic To poke or prod with a stick.
  • transitive verb Western US To herd (cattle).
  • transitive verb To depress (the accelerator of a car) forcefully.
  • transitive verb To depress (a key or button, for example) in order to activate a device or perform an operation.
  • transitive verb To enter (data) by keying.
  • transitive verb Baseball To hit (a ball) with a quick short swing.
  • noun A blow with the fist.
  • noun Impressive or effective force; impact. synonym: vigor.
  • idiom (beat to the punch) To make the first decisive move.
  • idiom (punch the clock) To register one's arrive or departure at a job.
  • idiom (punch the clock) To be employed at a job with regular hours.
  • noun A beverage of fruit juices and sometimes a soft drink or carbonated water, often spiced and mixed with a wine or liquor base.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make a hole or holes in with a punch or some similar instrument; pierce; perforate: as, to punch a metal plate.
  • To make with or as with a punch: as, to punch a hole in something.
  • noun A blow, dig, or thrust, us with the fist, elbow, or knee: as, to give one a punch in the ribs or a punch on the head.
  • Short and fat.
  • noun A short, fat fellow.
  • noun A short-legged, barrel-bodied horse, of an English draft-breed.
  • noun A short humpbacked hook-nosed puppet, with a squeaking voice, the chief character in a street puppet-show called “Punch and Judy,” who strangles his child, beats his wife (Judy) to death, belabors a policeman, and does other tragical and outrageous things in a comical way.
  • noun A drink commonly made with wine or spirits, and either water or some substitute, as a decoction of tea, and flavored with lemon-juice or lemon-peel and sugar.
  • Same as punish.
  • To give a blow, dig, or thrust to; beat with blows of the fist: as, to punch One on the head, or to punch one's head.
  • noun A tool the working end of which is pointed, blunt, a continuous edge inclosing an area, or a pattern in relief or intaglio, and which acts either by pressure or percussion (applied in the direction of its longitudinal axis) to perforate or indent a solid material, or to drive out or in objects inserted in previously formed perforations or cavities.
  • noun A tool used to force nail-heads below the surface.
  • noun A stone-masons' chipping-tool; a puncheon.
  • noun In surgery, an instrument used for extracting the stumps of teeth.
  • noun In decorative art, a tool in the form of a bar, sometimes fitted with a handle and engraved at the end in a cross, concentric ring, or other device. It is used for impressing ornamental patterns upon clay or other plastic materials.
  • noun The engraved model of a printing-type on the end of a steel rod: so called from its being punched in a copper bar which makes the matrix, or a reversed impression of the model.
  • noun In carpentry, studding by which a roof is supported.
  • noun In hydraulic engineering, a short length placed on the top of a pile to permit the monkey of a piledriver to bear upon it when it has been driven too low to be struck directly; a dolly.
  • noun In coal-mining, same as pout.


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

[Middle English pounce, punche, from Old French poinçon, ponchon; see puncheon. V., from Middle English pouncen, punchen, to prick, from Old French poinçoner, ponchoner, to emboss with a punch; see punch.]

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

[Middle English punchen, to thrust, prod, prick, from Old French poinçonner, ponchonner, to emboss with a punch, from poinçon, ponchon, pointed tool; see puncheon.]

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

[From Hindi pañc-, five, probably as used in pañcāmr̥t, a mixture of milk, yogurt, ghee, sugar, and honey used in Hindu ritual, from Sanskrit pañcāmṛtam : pañca, five; see penkwe in Indo-European roots + amṛtam, amrita.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Hindi पाँच (pāñć, "five"), because of the drink's original five ingredients (spirits, water, lemon juice, sugar, and spice), from Sanskrit पञ्चन् (páñcan).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Shortened form of puncheon, from Old French ponchon ("pointed tool"), from Latin punctus, perfect passive participle of pungō ("I prick").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French ponchonner ("to punch"), from ponchon ("pointed tool"), from Latin punctus, perfect passive participle of pungō ("I prick"). Possibly influenced by punish. Also probably related to pounce.


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  • "Power or ability to produce a striking effect; energy; effectiveness. Slang."

    December 14, 2006

  • "...and when I was in my best story of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, he asked if I had not a good hand at making punch. Yes, Kate, he asked your father if he was a maker of punch!"

    Goldsmith, She Stoops, III

    January 11, 2007

  • "The most popular new drink was punch. Introduced by East India merchants and served in ornate silver or decorated china bowls, punch had five main ingredients (hence its name -- panch means 'five' in Hindi): brandy, wine, lemons (even better, rare limes from the West Indies), sugar and spice. Sometimes rum, or rumbullion, made from the fermented residues of the sugar-refining process -- molasses -- was also added. Unsurprisingly, the mixture was incredibly potent."

    --Kate Colquhoun, Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking (NY: Bloomsbury, 2007), 223

    January 18, 2017