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[ding-kee] /ˈdɪŋ ki/
adjective, dinkier, dinkiest.
Informal. small, unimportant, unimpressive, or shabby:
We stayed in a dinky old hotel.
British Informal. fashionable; well dressed; smart.
noun, plural dinkies.
Origin of dinky
1780-90; compare Scots dink neatly dressed, trim (of obscure origin); sense shift perhaps: trim > dainty > small > insignificant; see -y1


or dinky

[ding-kee] /ˈdɪŋ ki/
noun, plural dinkeys.
a small locomotive, especially with a switch engine.
1840-50; noun use of dinky; see -ey2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dinky
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And the speed229 he gets out of that dinky little roadster is amazin'.

    Torchy and Vee Sewell Ford
  • The dinky engine, with its train of flat-cars, was steaming toward him.

    'Firebrand' Trevison Charles Alden Seltzer
  • "That's my dinky little religion, dear old Miss Hamilton," said Bones.

  • I know you can kill that hawk up there; but not with that dinky little thing.

    The Trail Boys on the Plains Jay Winthrop Allen
  • I know more about artillery than half their dinky West Pointers.

    The Wasted Generation Owen Johnson
  • Why do you bother with a dinky office like the one you started out for?

  • Look at the legs, with the dinky pantalets—aren't they dreams?

    Stover at Yale Owen Johnson
  • dinky, sez Badger-face, the only thing I got again you is your size.

    Friar Tuck Robert Alexander Wason
  • dinky Bradford, sez I after thinkin a moment; but Im delegated to speak for him.

    Friar Tuck Robert Alexander Wason
British Dictionary definitions for dinky


adjective (informal) dinkier, dinkiest
(Brit) small and neat; dainty
(US) inconsequential; insignificant
Word Origin
C18 (in the sense: dainty): from dink
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
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Word Origin and History for dinky

1788 "neat, trim, dainty, small," from Scottish dialectal dink "finely dressed, trim" (c.1500), of unknown origin. Modern sense is 1850s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for dinky



  1. Small; undersized The earliest sense meant ''small, neat, trim,'' and is related to later college use dink, ''a dude'': a dinky foreign car/ dinky little town
  2. Inadequate; substandard: What a dinky joint! (1788+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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