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[ingk] /ɪŋk/
a fluid or viscous substance used for writing or printing.
a dark, protective fluid ejected by the cuttlefish and other cephalopods.
Informal. publicity, especially in print media:
Their construction plans got some ink in the local paper.
verb (used with object)
to mark, stain, cover, or smear with ink:
to ink one's clothes.
Slang. to sign one's name to (an official document):
We expect to ink the contract tomorrow.
Origin of ink
1200-50; Middle English inke, enke < Old French enque < Late Latin encautum, variant of encaustum < Greek énkauston purple ink, noun use of neuter of énkaustos burnt in. See encaustic
Related forms
inker, noun
inkless, adjective
inklike, adjective
reink, verb (used with object)
uninked, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ink
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is a reference to “pen and ink” in the 3d Epistle of John xiii.

  • Strange, that the mere identity of paper and ink should be so powerful.

    A Book of Autographs Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • You could see them as plain as if they was painted on the moon with ink.

    Tom Sawyer Abroad Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • There was paper, there was ink and there was a pen with a new nib in it, and blotting paper!

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
  • But it is time to lay down my pen, since my ink runs nothing but gall.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
British Dictionary definitions for ink


a fluid or paste used for printing, writing, and drawing
a dark brown fluid ejected into the water for self-concealment by an octopus or related mollusc from a gland (ink sac) near the anus
verb (transitive)
to mark with ink
to coat (a printing surface) with ink
See also ink in, ink up
Derived Forms
inker, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French enque, from Late Latin encaustum a purplish-red ink, from Greek enkauston purple ink, from enkaustos burnt in, from enkaiein to burn in; see en-², caustic
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 ink

"the black liquor with which men write" [Johnson], mid-13c., from Old French enque "dark writing fluid" (11c.), from Late Latin encaustum, from Greek enkauston "purple or red ink," used by the Roman emperors to sign documents, originally a neuter adjective form of enkaustos "burned in," from stem of enkaiein "to burn in," from en- "in" + kaiein "to burn" (see caustic). The word is from a Greek method of applying colored wax and fixing it with heat. The Old English word for it was simply blæc, literally "black." Ink-blot test attested from 1928.


"to mark or stain in ink," 1560s, from ink (n.). Meaning "to cover (a printing plate, etc.) with ink" is from 1727. Related: Inked; inking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ink in Science
A dark liquid ejected for protection by most cephalopods, including the octopus and squid. Ink consists of highly concentrated melanin.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for ink



  1. Coffee (1940s+ Hoboes)
  2. Cheap, often red, wine: a cheap local ''ink'' (1930s+ Black)
  3. A black person (1940s+)
  4. Press notices; print publicity: New York Day's got lots more ink than Paul will get for his memoir/ NBC thought it might as well hang onto the one show that was getting good ink (1980s+)
  5. Tattoos in general; the amount of tattooing on someone's body: the ink on those college basketball players


To write; sign, esp a contract: He also inked the plays/ has inked to helm two more pictures (1940+)

Related Terms

pink ink, red ink

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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