high jinks

or hi·jinks

[ hahy-jingks ]
/ ˈhaɪˌdʒɪŋks /
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noun (used with a plural verb)Informal.
boisterous celebration or merrymaking; unrestrained fun: The city is full of conventioneers indulging in their usual high jinks.

OTHER WORDS FOR high jinks

horseplay, skylarking.
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Origin of high jinks

First recorded in 1760–70; see origin at jink
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does high jinks mean?

High jinks means playful, mischievous, or rowdy activity.

It is also commonly spelled hijinks. Both spellings of the word are used with a plural verb, as in My cousins’ high jinks are legendary.

High jinks usually implies a combination of fun and mischief. Activities that are called high jinks are often silly and mischievous and they may be rowdy, but they’re usually not harmful. They include things like minor pranks or the kinds of activities done during a happily unrestrained celebration. Sometimes, the term refers to a series of silly or chaotic events or interactions. This is especially the case in the phrase high jinks ensue, as in The movie is about a man who has to adopt 11 ostriches—high jinks ensue. 

However, high jinks is sometimes used in a more negative way to refer to mischief or wrongdoing that’s absurd or incompetent, as in The administration is up to its usual high jinks again—luckily they’re too inept to pull any of it off. 

Example: As a substitute teacher, I know exactly what kind of high jinks students will participate in when they think they can get away with it.

Where does high jinks come from?

The first records of the term high jinks come from right around 1700. Originally, the term referred to a kind of drinking game. The word jinks (a plural of jink) means “prankish or mischievous activities.” It may derive from a word meaning “to gasp violently,” perhaps in reference to intense laughter. The Old English word cincung, meaning “boisterous laughter,” may be related.

High jinks often refers to the kind of playful activities that end up with the participants laughing themselves silly. The word almost always implies some level of mischief or rowdiness. It is particularly associated with pranks, but usually the kind of pranks that the pranked person can also laugh at.

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What are some synonyms for high jinks?

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

What are some words that often get used in discussing high jinks?

How is high jinks used in real life?

High jinks is informal and is most commonly used in the context of lighthearted situations. It’s commonly spelled hijinks.


Try using high jinks!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of high jinks?

A. antics
B. shenanigans
C. boredom
D. mischief

How to use high jinks in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for high jinks

high jinks


/ (ˈhaɪˌdʒɪŋks) /

lively enjoyment
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with high jinks

high jinks

Playful or rowdy activity, often involving mischievous pranks. For example, All sorts of high jinks go on at summer camp after “lights out.” About 1700 this term denoted a gambling game accompanied by much drinking, but by the mid-1800s it acquired its present meaning.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.