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  1. a crack, cleft, or fissure: a chink in a wall.
  2. a narrow opening: a chink between two buildings.
verb (used with object)
  1. to fill up chinks in.

Origin of chink1

1350–1400; Middle English; perhaps chine1 + -k suffix (see -ock)


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1. breach, rent, cut.


verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make, or cause to make, a short, sharp, ringing sound, as of coins or glasses striking together.
  1. a chinking sound: the chink of ice in a glass.
  2. Slang. coin or ready cash.

Origin of chink2

First recorded in 1565–75; imitative


noun (sometimes lowercase) Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.
  1. a contemptuous term used to refer to a Chinese person.

Origin of Chink

1900–05; earlier Chinkie apparently alteration of China, Chinese by association with chink1 (from the stereotypical Western image of Chinese as narrow-eyed); see -ie
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for chink

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Grant it but a chink or keyhole, and it shot in like a white-hot arrow.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • A slice of light through the chink stood across the passage.

  • I went up to the window and looked in through a chink in the shutter.

    A Hero of Our Time

    M. Y. Lermontov

  • "That seems handsome," said I, reconnoitring through the chink.

  • "Aissa," he said, pleadingly, pressing his lips to a chink between the stakes.

British Dictionary definitions for chink


  1. a small narrow opening, such as a fissure or crack
  2. chink in one's armour a small but fatal weakness
  1. (tr) mainly US and Canadian to fill up or make cracks in
Derived Formschinky, adjective

Word Origin

C16: perhaps variant of earlier chine, from Old English cine crack; related to Middle Dutch kene, Danish kin


  1. to make or cause to make a light ringing sound, as by the striking of glasses or coins
  1. such a sound

Word Origin

C16: of imitative origin


taboo Chinky (ˈtʃɪŋkɪ)

noun, adjective plural Chinks or Chinkies
  1. an old-fashioned and highly derogatory term for Chinese

Word Origin

C20: probably from Chinese, influenced by chink 1 (referring to the characteristic shape of the Chinese eye)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for chink


"a split, crack," 1530s, with parasitic -k + Middle English chine (and replacing this word) "fissure, narrow valley," from Old English cinu, cine "fissure," related to cinan "to crack, split, gape," common Germanic (cf. Old Saxon and Old High German kinan, Gothic uskeinan, German keimen "to germinate;" Middle Dutch kene, Old Saxon kin, German Keim "germ;" ), from PIE root *geie- "to sprout, split open." The connection being in the notion of bursting open.


"a Chinaman," 1901, derogatory, perhaps derived somehow from China, or else from chink (n.1) with reference to eye shape.


"sharp sound" (especially of coin), 1580s, probably imitative. As a verb from 1580s. Related: Chinked; chinking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper