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Old English hulc "light, fast ship" (but in Middle English a heavy, unwieldy one), probably from Old Dutch hulke and Medieval Latin hulcus, perhaps ultimately from Greek holkas "merchant ship," literally "ship that is towed," from helkein "to pull" (from PIE root *selk- "to pull, draw"). Meaning "body of an old, worn-out ship" is first recorded 1670s. The Hulks ("Great Expectations") were old ships used as prisons. Sense of "big, clumsy person" is first recorded c.1400 (early 14c. as a surname: Stephen le Hulke).
"to be clumsy, unwieldy, lazy," 1789, from hulk (n.). Related: Hulked; hulking.