Definitions

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

  • noun Any of numerous cartilaginous fishes of the subclass Elasmobranchii that are chiefly carnivorous and marine. Sharks have a streamlined torpedolike body, five to seven gill openings on each side of the head, a large oil-filled liver, and tough skin covered with small toothlike scales.
  • noun Informal A person, such as a loan shark, who takes advantage of the misfortune of others for personal gain.
  • noun Informal A person unusually skilled in a particular activity.
  • intransitive verb To obtain by deceitful or underhand means.
  • intransitive verb To take advantage of others for personal gain, especially by fraud and trickery.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A sharper; a cheat; a greedy, dishonest fellow who eagerly preys upon others; a rapacious swindler.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To pick or gather indiscriminately or covertly.
  • intransitive verb To play the petty thief; to practice fraud or trickery; to swindle.
  • intransitive verb To live by shifts and stratagems.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any one of numerous species of elasmobranch fishes of the order Plagiostomi, found in all seas.
  • noun colloq. A rapacious, artful person; a sharper.
  • noun obsolete Trickery; fraud; petty rapine.
  • noun See under Basking, Liver, etc. See also Dogfish, Houndfish, Notidanian, and Tope.
  • noun the sand shark.
  • noun See Hammerhead.
  • noun See Cestraciont.
  • noun the eggcase of a shark; a sea purse.
  • noun Same as Angel fish (a), under Angel.
  • noun a large, voracious shark. See Thrasher.
  • noun a huge harmless shark (Rhinodon typicus) of the Indian Ocean. It becomes sixty feet or more in length, but has very small teeth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the German Schurke ("scoundrel").

Examples

Comments

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  • 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

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

    October 28, 2007

  • located in Merriam Webtster's Notebook Dictionary pg 73

    September 25, 2010

  • Having trouble with a scoundrel?

    You're going to need a bigger boat.

    October 20, 2015