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[pingk] /pɪŋk/
verb (used with object)
to pierce with a rapier or the like; stab.
to finish at the edge with a scalloped, notched, or other ornamental pattern.
to punch (cloth, leather, etc.) with small holes or figures for ornament.
Chiefly British Dialect. to adorn or ornament, especially with scalloped edges or a punched-out pattern.
Origin of pink2
1275-1325; Middle English pynken to prick, derivative of Old English pinca point, itself derivative of pinn pin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pinking
Historical Examples
  • "The pinking of your doublet suits me not, either," I declared.

    To Have and To Hold Mary Johnston
  • The pinking of your doublet suits me not, either, I declared.

    By order of the company Mary Johnston
  • If Mrs. pinking would be so kind as to allow them the same terms.

    Once Aboard The Lugger Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson
  • Leave off your winking and your pinking, with a hose-pox t'ye.

  • He will rail at his second for not pinking you; but 'twas his own words that daunted the man.

    Tom Tufton's Travels Evelyn Everett-Green
  • These seem highly entertained with pinking poor Anthony, and whispering, I warrant ye, filthy tales in his ear.

  • Just in time, dearie, to fetch us the paste from the library and the pinking iron which Gussie was using last evening.

    Heart of Gold

    Ruth Alberta Brown
  • This projecting edge is pinked with a pinking iron, to make it more ornamental.

  • Mrs. pinking gave him good night; busied herself with the tea-things.

    Once Aboard The Lugger Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson
  • Place two pieces together and pin at the fold, and "pink" through the four thicknesses, around the edges with a "pinking iron."

    Handicraft for Girls Idabelle McGlauflin
British Dictionary definitions for pinking


any of a group of colours with a reddish hue that are of low to moderate saturation and can usually reflect or transmit a large amount of light; a pale reddish tint
pink cloth or clothing: dressed in pink
any of various Old World plants of the caryophyllaceous genus Dianthus, such as D. plumarius (garden pink), cultivated for their fragrant flowers See also carnation (sense 1)
any of various plants of other genera, such as the moss pink
the flower of any of these plants
the highest or best degree, condition, etc (esp in the phrases in the pink of health, in the pink)
  1. a huntsman's scarlet coat
  2. a huntsman who wears a scarlet coat
of the colour pink
(Brit, informal) left-wing
(US, derogatory)
  1. sympathetic to or influenced by Communism
  2. leftist or radical, esp half-heartedly
(informal) of or relating to homosexuals or homosexuality: the pink vote
(of a huntsman's coat) scarlet or red
(intransitive) another word for knock (sense 7)
Derived Forms
pinkish, adjective
pinkness, noun
pinky, adjective
Word Origin
C16 (the flower), C18 (the colour): perhaps a shortening of pinkeye


verb (transitive)
to prick lightly with a sword or rapier
to decorate (leather, cloth, etc) with a perforated or punched pattern
to cut with pinking shears
Word Origin
C14: perhaps of Low German origin; compare Low German pinken to peck


a sailing vessel with a narrow overhanging transom
Word Origin
C15: from Middle Dutch pinke, of obscure origin
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 pinking


n., adj.

1570s, common name of Dianthus, a garden plant of various colors, of unknown origin. Its use for "pale rose color" first recorded 1733 (pink-coloured is recorded from 1680s), from one of the colors of the flowers. The plant name is perhaps from pink (v.) via notion of "perforated" petals, or from Dutch pink "small" (see pinkie), from the term pinck oogen "half-closed eyes," literally "small eyes," which was borrowed into English (1570s) and may have been used as a name for Dianthus, which sometimes has pale red flowers.

The flower meaning led (by 1590s) to a figurative use for "the flower" or finest example of anything (e.g. Mercutio's "Nay, I am the very pinck of curtesie," Rom. & Jul. II.iv.61). Political noun sense "person perceived as left of center but not entirely radical (i.e. red)" is attested by 1927, but the image dates to at least 1837. Pink slip "discharge notice" is first recorded 1915. To see pink elephants "hallucinate from alcoholism" first recorded 1913 in Jack London's "John Barleycorn."



c.1200, pungde "pierce, stab," later (early 14c.) "make holes in; spur a horse," of uncertain origin; perhaps from a Romanic stem that also yielded French piquer, Spanish picar (see pike (n.2)). Or perhaps from Old English pyngan and directly from Latin pungere "to prick, pierce" (see pungent). Surviving mainly in pinking shears.

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



  1. Politically liberal; radical: pink perspective on Palestine (1837+)
  2. Homosexual (1972+ Homosexuals)


  1. A white person; Gray (1926+ Black)
  2. A politically liberal or mildly socialist radical; parlor pink (1927+)
  3. A legal certificate of car ownership (1950s+ Hot rodders)

Related Terms

in the pink, tickled pink

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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Idioms and Phrases with pinking
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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