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[ping-ker-tuh n] /ˈpɪŋ kər tən/
Allan, 1819–84, U.S. detective, born in Scotland. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Pinkerton
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I did not like to lose my own money; I hated to lose Pinkerton's; and the bearing of my creditor incensed me.

    The Wrecker Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne
  • I had the year 1020 on my mind, which is the year assigned by Pinkerton for the writing of the Chron.

  • When Miss Pinkerton first saw it, she doubted whether leg or boy could be saved.

    Across the Fruited Plain Florence Crannell Means
  • Where Madame Butterfly hears that Pinkerton's ship has been sighted.

    The Education of Eric Lane Stephen McKenna
  • The hated Pinkerton uniforms were torn off and cast into the river.

    Homestead Arthur G. Burgoyne
  • "I feel it my duty to save the town unnecessary expense," said Deacon Pinkerton.

    The Cash Boy Horatio Alger Jr.
  • I thought I had never seen Mrs. Pinkerton appear to so good advantage as she did on this occasion.

  • She was at work in the kitchen when Deacon Pinkerton drove up.

    The Cash Boy Horatio Alger Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for Pinkerton


Allan. 1819–84, US private detective, born in Scotland. He founded the first detective agency in the US (1850) and organized an intelligence system for the Federal States of America (1861)
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 Pinkerton

"semi-official detective," 1888, from the detective agency begun in U.S. 1850 by Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884).

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



An operative or agent of the Pinkerton detective agency: how you suppose Pinkies get trainin' (1850+)

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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