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verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or cause to make a light, sharp, ringing sound: The coins clinked together. He clinked the fork against a glass.
  1. a clinking sound.
  2. Metallurgy. a small crack in a steel ingot resulting from uneven expanding or contracting.
  3. a pointed steel bar for breaking up road surfaces.
  4. Archaic. a rhyme; jingle.

Origin of clink1

1275–1325; Middle English clinken, perhaps < Middle Dutch clinken to sound, ring, resound


noun Slang.
  1. a prison; jail; lockup.

Origin of clink2

1505–15; after Clink, name of prison in Southwark, London, perhaps < Dutch klink door-latch
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for clink

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Fists often pounded on the bar, causing the glasses to clink.


    Emile Zola

  • Surely the clink of the iron shoe of a horse on a stone in the road!

    Rodney, the Ranger

    John V. Lane

  • He heard them even before he had left his bunk—the clink, creak, creak!

    Blazed Trail Stories

    Stewart Edward White

  • We find him living on the Bankside and in the Liberty of the Clink at least as early as 1577.

    Shakespearean Playhouses</p>

    Joseph Quincy Adams

  • The fact that he was for a time "committed to the Clink" failed to deter him.

    Shakespearean Playhouses</p>

    Joseph Quincy Adams

British Dictionary definitions for clink


  1. to make or cause to make a light and sharply ringing sound
  1. a light and sharply ringing sound
  2. British a pointed steel tool used for breaking up the surface of a road before it is repaired

Word Origin

C14: perhaps from Middle Dutch klinken; related to Old Low German chlanch, German Klang sound


  1. a slang word for prison

Word Origin

C16: after Clink, name of a prison in Southwark, London
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 clink


early 14c., echoic (cf. Dutch klinken, Old High German klingan, German klingen). Related: Clinked; clinking. The noun in the sound sense is from c.1400.


"prison," 1770s, apparently originally (early 16c.) the Clynke on Clink Street in Southwark, on the estate of the bishops of Winchester. To kiss the clink "to be imprisoned" is from 1580s, and the word and the prison name might be cognate derivatives of the sound made by chains or metal locks (see clink (v.)).


"sharp, ringing sound made by collision of sonorous (especially metallic) bodies," c.1400, from clink (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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