Funk • y [fuhng-kee]
funk (1) “depression, ill-humor,” 1743, probably originally Scottish and northern English; earlier as a verb, “panic, fail through panic,” (1737), said to be 17c. Oxford University slang, perhaps from Flem. fonck “perturbation, agitation, distress,” possibly related to O.Fr. funicle “wild, mad.”
- cowering fear; state of great fright or terror.
- a dejected mood: He’s been in a funk ever since she walked out on him.
verb (used with object)
- to be afraid of.
- to frighten.
- to shrink from; try to shirk.
funk (2) “bad smell,” 1620s, from dialectal Fr. funkière “smoke,” from O.Fr. fungier “give off smoke; fill with smoke,” from L. fumigare “to smoke” (see fume). In reference to a style of music, it is first attested 1959, a back formation from funky.
funky 1784, “old, musty,” in reference to cheeses, then “repulsive,” from funk (2) + -y (2). It began to develop an approving sense in jazz slang c.1900, probably on the notion of “earthy, strong, deeply felt.” … The word reached wider popularity c.1954 (e.g. definition in “Time” magazine, Nov. 8, 1954) and in the 1960s acquired a broad slang sense of “fine, stylish, excellent.”
For more fun with words, see the Online Etymology Dictionary.