If point-sized objects are always simple, then a gunky object does not have any point-sized parts. By usual accounts of gunk, such as Alfred Tarski's in 1929, three-dimensional gunky objects also do not have other degenerate parts shaped like one-dimensional curves or two-dimensional surfaces. (See also Whitehead's point-free geometry.)
Gunk is an important test case for accounts of the composition of material objects: for instance, Ted Sider has challenged Peter van Inwagen's account of composition because it is inconsistent with the possibility of gunk. Sider's argument also applies to a simpler view than van Inwagen's: mereological nihilism, the view that only material simples exist. If nihilism is necessarily true, then gunk is impossible. But, as Sider argues, because gunk is both conceivable and possible, nihilism is false, or at best a contingent truth.
Gunk has also played an important role in the history of topology (Zimmerman 1996a) and in recent debates concerning change, contact, and the structure of physical space. The composition of space and the composition of material objects are related by receptacles - regions of space that could harbour a material object. (The term receptacles was coined by Richard Cartwright (Cartwright 1975).) It seems reasonable to assume that if space is gunky, a receptacle is gunky and then a material object is possibly gunky.
The term was first used by David Lewis in his work Parts of Classes (1991) and "Nominalistic Set Theory" (1970). Dean W. Zimmerman defends the possibility of atomless gunk (1996b). See also Hud Hudson (2007).