verb (used with or without object)

to make or cause to make a light, sharp, ringing sound: The coins clinked together. He clinked the fork against a glass.


a clinking sound.
Metallurgy. a small crack in a steel ingot resulting from uneven expanding or contracting.
a pointed steel bar for breaking up road surfaces.
Archaic. a rhyme; jingle.

Origin of clink

1275–1325; Middle English clinken, perhaps < Middle Dutch clinken to sound, ring, resound Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for clinking

sound, jangle, clang, tinkle, tingle, jingle, chink

Examples from the Web for clinking

Contemporary Examples of clinking

Historical Examples of clinking

  • From every little niche and corner came the sound of clinking anvils.

  • Then, having filled the glasses to the brim, he insisted on clinking them.

  • As he passed the tea tables he heard the clinking of ice in glasses.

    Spring Street

    James H. Richardson

  • One heard the clinking of glasses, and the crash of broken bottles.

  • I heard some clinking of glass, and I knew they were drinking.

    The Birthright

    Joseph Hocking

British Dictionary definitions for clinking




to make or cause to make a light and sharply ringing sound


a light and sharply ringing sound
British a pointed steel tool used for breaking up the surface of a road before it is repaired

Word Origin for clink

C14: perhaps from Middle Dutch klinken; related to Old Low German chlanch, German Klang sound




a slang word for prison

Word Origin for clink

C16: after Clink, name of a prison in Southwark, London
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

Word Origin and History for clinking



early 14c., echoic (cf. Dutch klinken, Old High German klingan, German klingen). Related: Clinked; clinking. The noun in the sound sense is from c.1400.



"prison," 1770s, apparently originally (early 16c.) the Clynke on Clink Street in Southwark, on the estate of the bishops of Winchester. To kiss the clink "to be imprisoned" is from 1580s, and the word and the prison name might be cognate derivatives of the sound made by chains or metal locks (see clink (v.)).



"sharp, ringing sound made by collision of sonorous (especially metallic) bodies," c.1400, from clink (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper