Intermediate+ Word of the Day: chunk

chunk (noun, verb) /tʃʌŋk/ LISTEN

Chunks of pumpkin

A chunk is a thick mass, lump, or piece of anything and also a large or significant amount of something. Informally, in US English, a strong, sturdy person can also be called a chunk, though this sense is a bit dated. In US English, chunk can also be used as a verb meaning ‘to cut or break into chunks’ or ‘to disintegrate into chunks.’ Only in the South of the USA, chunk is also a verb that means ‘to toss or throw.’

Example sentences

  • Tania cut herself a chunk of cake.
  • We spent a chunk of our savings on that holiday.
  • George was a chunk of a fellow.
  • Would you chunk that chocolate bar and put the pieces in that bowl? The recipe says we should melt it in the microwave.
  • After months of heavy rains, many of the roads in this area have started to chunk and need to be repaved.
  • The children amused themselves by chunking pebbles at the barn door.

In pop culture

Listen to John Anderson singing “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (but I’m Gonna be a Diamond Some Day)” here:

Additional information

The related adjective chunky means ‘full of chunks’ (you might use this about a soup that is not completely smooth), ‘thick and heavy’ (we use this often to talk about knitwear), or, if you are talking about a person, ‘stout or stocky.’

Did you know?

Chunks of chocolate are very nice to add to cakes and cookies. You can watch a recipe of chocolate chunk cookies here:


Chunk, meaning ‘a thick piece of something,’ dates back to the late 17th century. It emerged as a nasalized variant of chuck (a piece of wood or cut of meat). Chuck itself is a variant of the word chock (block or piece of wood), and dates back to the mid-17th century. Chock came into English in the mid-17th century from the Old North French choque (a block), and can be traced back to the Gaulish tsukka (a tree trunk or stump). Chunk is related to the Old French çoche (log) and the modern French souche (stump, stock or block). The figurative sense ‘a large amount’ dates back to the late 19th century, and was first used in US English. The meaning ‘a person (or animal) that is thick-set and strong,’ dates back to the early 19th century. The verb, meaning ‘to cut into chunks’ or ‘to disintegrate into chunks’ dates back to the early 18th century, and comes from the noun. The Southern US sense ‘to throw’ dates back to the early 19th century. It may have come from the noun, or have evolved (as the noun did) from chuck (which also means ‘to throw’ as a verb).

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