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Funk is a word which has very different meanings in North American English and British English. In North America, funk refers to a state of low-spiritedness or depression, often referred to as a blue funk. Also in North America, funk may refer to a musty, unpleasant smell often involving the odor of sweat, tobacco, musk, etc. Funk is also an African-American style of dance music which originated in the 1960s and is a combination of soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz.

In British English, funk refers to a state of panic or overwhelming fear, also sometimes referred to as a blue funk. Funk comes into the English language in the 1620s as a term for a bad smell, probably from the Old French fungier which means to give off smoke. In 1743 funk comes to mean depression, ill-humor, cowering with fear, from the Scottish word funk meaning shrink through fear, fail through panic. Funk is possibly derived from the Flemish word fonck meaning distress, agitation and the Old French word funicle, meaning wild, mad.


One listen to Nigel Hall’s debut release, Ladies & Gentlemen…Nigel Hall, and it becomes obvious that the keyboardist and vocalist is way hip to the inner workings of soul and funk. (Louisiana Weekly)

Red Wings look to solve funk against Bruins (The Detroit News)

He once perched atop McGregor’s doghouse to the delight of People magazine photographers, and like his clone is known to descend into an occasional blue funk. (TwinCities Pioneer Press)

The case — along with the boisterous, game-is-afoot emotions it inspires — is the thing. Doyle himself, played by the excellent Martin Clunes, admits early on that he was in a blue funk until his loyal, Watson-like manservant Alfred Wood (Charles Edwards) brought the Edalji matter to his attention. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Fish funk should then be limited, but to tackle any pesky fumes that have escaped, pour some vinegar into a pan of boiling water. (The Huffington Post)

Regardless of the manufacturer’s woes, many customers are left with the blue funk of betrayal, and cars of uncertain future. (The Guardian)