Etymology
Advertisement
junk (v.)

1803, "to cut off in lumps," from junk (n.1). The meaning "to throw away as trash, to scrap" is from 1908. Related: Junked; junking.

New settlers (who should always be here as early in the spring as possible) begin to cut down the wood where they intend to erect their first house. As the trees are cut the branches are to be lopped off, and the trunks cut into lengths of 12 or 14 feet. This operation they call junking them; if they are not junked before fire is applied, they are much worse to junk afterwards. [letter dated Charlotte Town, Nov. 29, 1820, in "A Series of Letters Descriptive of Prince Edward Island," 1822]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
junk (n.1)

mid-14c., junke "old cable or rope," cut in bits and used for caulking, etc., a nautical word of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old French junc "rush, reed," also used figuratively as a type of something of little value, from Latin iuncus "rush, reed" (but OED finds "no evidence of connexion").

It was extended to "old refuse from boats and ships" (1660s), then to "old or discarded articles of any kind" (1884), usually with a suggestion of reusability. Meaning "salt meat used on long voyages" is from 1762. Meaning "narcotic drug" is from 1925. Junk food is from 1971; junk art is from 1961; junk mail first attested 1954; junk bond from 1979.

Related entries & more 
junk (n.2)
"large, seagoing Chinese sailing ship," 1610s, from Portuguese junco, from Malay (Austronesian) jong "ship, large boat" (13c.), probably from Javanese djong. In English 16c. as giunche, iunco.
Related entries & more 
junk-shop (n.)
1800, "marine shop," from junk (n.1) in the sense "discarded articles from ships." By 1951 in the non-marine sense "junk-dealer."
Related entries & more 
junkman (n.)
"dealer in junk," 1872, from junk (n.1) + man (n.).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
junky (adj.)
"run-down, seedy, trashy," 1876, from junk (n.1) + -y (2).
Related entries & more 
junkie (n.)
"drug addict," 1923, from junk (n.1) in the narcotics sense + -y (3). Junker in the same sense is recorded from 1922. Junk for "narcotic" is older.
Related entries & more 
junker (n.)
"young German noble," 1550s, from German Junker, from Old High German juncherro, literally "young lord," from junc "young" (see young (adj.)) + herro "lord" (see Herr). Pejorative sense of "reactionary younger member of the Prussian aristocracy" (1865) is from Bismarck's domestic policy. Related: Junkerism. Meaning "drug addict" is from 1922; that of "old worn-out automobile" is from 1969, both from junk (n.1).
Related entries & more 
hoarder (n.)

Old English hordere "treasurer," from hoard (n.). As "one who gathers and keeps a stock of something," c. 1500, from hoard (v.). In the negative/disapproving sense of "morbidly overzealous junk collector" by 1964.

Related entries & more 
spam (n.)
proprietary name registered by Geo. A. Hormel & Co. in U.S., 1937; probably a conflation of spiced ham. Soon extended to other kinds of canned meat.

In the sense of "internet junk mail" it was coined by Usenet users after March 31, 1993, when Usenet administrator Richard Depew inadvertently posted the same message 200 times to a discussion group. The term had been used in online text games, and ultimately it is from a 1970 sketch on the British TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus" wherein a reading of a restaurant's menu devolves into endless repetitions of "spam."
Related entries & more