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[ring-kee-dingk] /ˈrɪŋ kiˌdɪŋk/ Slang.
inconsequential, amateurish, or of generally inferior quality; small-time:
a rinky-dink college; He plays with some rinky-dink team.
outmoded or shabby; backward; antiquated:
a rinky-dink airline.
a person or thing that is rinky-dink.
Origin of rinky-dink
1910-15; rhyming compound (perhaps based on alteration and nasalization of rickety); cf. ricky-tick Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Word Origin and History for rinky-dink

1913 (from 1912 as a noun), said to be carnival slang and imitative of the sound of banjo music at parades [Barnhart]; cf. ricky-tick "old-fashioned jazz" (1938), but early records suggest otherwise unless there are two words. The earliest senses seem to be as a noun, "maltreatment," especially robbery:

So I felt and saw that I was robbed and I went to look after an officer. I found an officer on the corner of Twenty-fifth street and Sixth avenue. I said, "Officer, I have got the rinky-dink." He knew what it meant all right. He said, "Where? Down at that wench house?" I said, "I guess that is right." [testimony dated New York August 9, 1899, published 1900]
And cf. this chorus from the "Yale Literary Magazine," Feb. 1896:
Rinky dinky, rinky dink,
Stand him up for another drink.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for rinky-dink



(also ricky-tick) Inferior; cheap; crummy: described by federal attorneys as rinky dink and a very strange document/ its deserted beaches, summer houses, and ricky-tick towns (1913+)


  1. Cheap and gaudy merchandise; dreck, junk (1912+ Carnival)
  2. Used merchandise; secondhand articles: Let's go see what sort of rinky-dink the Salvation Army has this week (1913+)
  3. A small, cheap nightclub, cabaret, etc; honky-tonk: as she was called when she played the rinky-dinks (1912+)
  4. A deception; swindle; the runaround: Don't give me the rinkydink (1912+)

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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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