fink

[ fingk ]
/ fɪŋk /
Slang.

noun

verb (used without object)

to inform to the police; squeal.
to act as a strikebreaker; scab.

Verb Phrases

fink out,
  1. to withdraw from or refuse to support a project, activity, scheme, etc.; renege: He said he'd lend me his motorcycle, but he finked out.
  2. to become untrustworthy.

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Origin of fink

1900–05, Americanism; compared with German Fink literally, finch, colloquial epithet for an undesirable person, especially an untidy or loose-living one (often in compounds, as Duckfink sycophant, Schmierfink untidy writer); but the transmission of this word to English and the range of meanings of the English word have not been clarified fully
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does fink mean?

Fink is an insulting name that commonly refers to someone who informs the police or other authorities when others break the law or the rules—an informant or snitch. It can also be used as a verb in the same way that snitch can.

In the context of labor unions, fink refers to a strikebreaker—someone who works during the strike (a scab) or finds workers to replace the striking ones. It can also be used as a verb in this sense. As a noun, it can also refer to a person placed by management to spy on union activities.

More generally, fink can be used to refer to an overall unpleasant or untrustworthy person.

In all of its uses, it is very negative, though not as common as some of its synonyms, like snitch and scab. Fink is used in the similar term ratfink, which refers to a snitch or a despicable person.

Example: That fink told the teacher I was going to cut class.

Where does fink come from?

The first records of fink as an insult come from the early 1900s. The exact origins of how fink entered English aren’t fully known, but it’s thought to come from the German word Fink, which means “finch” (a type of bird). In German, the word was used as a slang term referring to an undesirable person, especially an untidy one.

The word fink is often associated with betrayal, and for that reason it is usually intended as a deeply insulting term. When it refers to a person who betrays others to the cops, fink and ratfink are synonymous with snitch and stool pigeon. To fink is to inform on someone—to snitch or rat them out (hence the term ratfink).

In the context of labor unions, it carries the same harsh negativity as the term scab, though that term is much more commonly used. While scab typically refers to a worker who crosses the picket lines to work during a strike, fink can also refer to a person who recruits such workers, or who spies on union members.

When used generally, fink often refers to a person who is despised. More specifically, it can refer to someone seen as unreliable or untrustworthy. Relatedly, fink is also used in the phrase fink out, which can mean “to renege,” “to flake out,” or “to become untrustworthy.”

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to fink?

  • finkish (adjective)

What are some synonyms for fink?

What are some words that share a root or word element with fink

What are some words that often get used in discussing fink?

 

 

How is fink used in real life?

Fink has different meanings in different contexts, but it is always used as an insult. It’s a strong one, but it’s not very commonly used.

Try using fink!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to be used when referring to a fink

A. detestable
B. reliable
C. traitorous
D. double-crossing

Example sentences from the Web for fink

British Dictionary definitions for fink

fink
/ (fɪŋk) slang, mainly US and Canadian /

noun

a strikebreaker; blackleg
an informer, such as one working for the police; spy
an unpleasant, disappointing, or contemptible person

verb

(intr often foll by on) to inform (on someone), as to the police

Word Origin for fink

C20: of uncertain 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