Definitions

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

  • n. Any of numerous chiefly marine carnivorous fishes of the class Chondrichthyes (subclass Elasmobranchii), which are sometimes large and voracious and have a streamlined torpedolike body, five to seven gill openings on each side of the head, a large oil-filled liver, a cartilaginous skeleton, and tough skin covered with small toothlike scales.
  • n. A person regarded as ruthless, greedy, or dishonest.
  • n. A vicious usurer.
  • n. Slang A person unusually skilled in a particular activity: a card shark.
  • transitive v. Archaic To obtain by deceitful means.
  • intransitive v. To practice or live by fraud and trickery.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A scaleless, predatory fish of the superorder Selachimorpha, with a cartilaginous skeleton and 5 to 7 gill slits on each side of its head.
  • n. A sleazy and amoral lawyer; an ambulance chaser.
  • n. A relentless and resolute person or group, especially in business.
  • n. A very good poker or pool player.
  • n. A person who feigns ineptitude to win money from others.
  • v. To steal or obtain through fraud.
  • v. To play the petty thief; to practice fraud or trickery; to swindle.
  • v. To live by shifts and stratagems.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of numerous species of elasmobranch fishes of the order Plagiostomi, found in all seas.
  • n. A rapacious, artful person; a sharper.
  • n. Trickery; fraud; petty rapine.
  • transitive v. To pick or gather indiscriminately or covertly.
  • intransitive v. To play the petty thief; to practice fraud or trickery; to swindle.
  • intransitive v. To live by shifts and stratagems.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A selachian of the subclass Plagiostomi, of an elongate form, with the pectoral fins moderately developed, the branchial apertures lateral, and the mouth inferior (rarely terminal).
  • To fish for or catch sharks.
  • n. A sharper; a cheat; a greedy, dishonest fellow who eagerly preys upon others; a rapacious swindler.
  • n. The sharp practice and petty shifts and stratagems of a swindler or needy adventurer.
  • To play the shark or needy adventurer; live by one's wits; depend on or practise the shifts and stratagems of a needy adventurer; swindle: sometimes with an impersonal it: as, to shark for a living.
  • To pick up; obtain or get together by sharking: with up or out.

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

  • v. play the shark; act with trickery
  • n. any of numerous elongate mostly marine carnivorous fishes with heterocercal caudal fins and tough skin covered with small toothlike scales
  • v. hunt shark
  • n. a person who is ruthless and greedy and dishonest
  • n. a person who is unusually skilled in certain ways

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in the 1560s, the word meaning 'scaleless fish' is of uncertain origin: it was apparently brought to England, with a specimen, by John Hawkins. The word may derive from the Yucatec Maya xoc, or it may be an application of the "scoundrel" sense (which derives from the German Schurke ("scoundrel")) to the fish; no explanation is agreed upon. (Wiktionary)
From the German Schurke ("scoundrel"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • These are often removed while the shark is alive: the mutilated animal is then thrown overboard.

    Back Biodiversity 100, save our wildlife

  • Named in 1884, this shark is a living representative of a primitive shark order, Hexanchiformes.

    Archive 2007-01-01

  • The old grandfather had died in the meantime, so that he was dependent on the food supplied by his stepfather and uncles, and they had to expostulate with him on what they called his shark-like voracity.

    Hawaiian Folk Tales A Collection of Native Legends

  • An Iraqi judge from 13th-century CE described sharks in the Tigris River as having eyes "like fires of blood ... all other species run away from it" and the Mayans had an ominous, killer demon known as Ah Xoc, which some have argued gave us the word shark.

    The Seattle Times

  • If we hear the word shark .. everyone will think that it is dangerous but do you know that the dangerous kind of shark is not plenty there.

    WN.com - Articles related to No more eating shark fin in Hawaii after new law

  • Yes | No | Report from bailor 09 wrote 39 weeks 6 days ago thats a good one and the shark is nice too

    Field & Stream

  • If you're in shark filled waters swimming toward land a knife is not going to help much you need your brain above all else.

    what is the most importaint surviva; tool?

  • My nightmare is that I'll be on a plane that crashes in shark infested waters.

    Questions of travel

  • The skin of a shark is like sandpaper, but the skin of a ray fish is like a rasp.

    MAUKI

  • The shark is interesting, but how was the Tarpon fishing?

    Dropping The Hammer (Again)

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • located in Merriam Webtster's Notebook Dictionary pg 73

    September 25, 2010

  • its use as a verb (to live by fraud or trickery) may be somewhat archaic

    October 28, 2007

  • Some species of shark must continually swim to avoid asphyxiation. Something along the same lines is true of the human brain. Deprived of all inflow of sensation, it must create its own (ala John Lilly's hallucination-inducing isolation tank experimentation). "Impressions" (q.v. Gurdjieff) are "food" for the brain, grist for the mental mill.

    August 24, 2007