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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for inking
Historical Examples
  • His typewriter had many of the features of the modern typewriter, but lacked a satisfactory method of inking the types.

    The Age of Invention Holland Thompson
  • There is, too, a difference in the manner of inking the type.

    Paul and the Printing Press Sara Ware Bassett
  • A primer of information about the composition, manufacture, and care of inking rollers.

    The Uses of Italic Frederick W. Hamilton
  • The top is heated by gas and on it the printer puts his plate while inking and wiping it.

  • In 1814, printing by machinery was commenced in London, and rollers became necessary for inking the forms.

  • For a print, from the mode of inking, has a breadth and unity which the drawing never can have.

    Albert Durer T. Sturge Moore
  • This would occasion a diversion in Jip's favour, and some inking of his nose, perhaps, as a penalty.

    David Copperfield Charles Dickens
  • After the inking a considerable portion of dampness remains.

    The Invention of Lithography Alois Senefelder
  • Jimmie did the inking and his father put on the paper and took off the impression.

  • Darkness was inking the sky as Penny drew up at the end of the road.

    The Secret Pact Mildred A. Wirt
British Dictionary definitions for inking


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 inking



"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.



"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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inking 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 inking



  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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