noun (used with a plural verb)Informal.
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Origin of high jinks
What does hijinks mean?
Hijinks means playful, mischievous, or rowdy activity.
It is also spelled high jinks. Both spellings of the word are used with a plural verb, as in My cousins’ hijinks are legendary.
Hijinks usually implies a combination of fun and mischief. Activities that are called hijinks 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 hijinks ensue, as in The movie is about a man who has to adopt 11 ostriches—hijinks ensue.
However, hijinks 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 hjinks again—luckily they’re too inept to pull any of it off.
Example: As a substitute teacher, I know exactly what kind of hijinks students will participate in when they think they can get away with it.
Where does hijinks come from?
The original spelling of hijinks is high jinks, and the first records of the term 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.
Hijinks 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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How is hijinks used in real life?
Hijinks is informal and is most commonly used in the context of lighthearted situations. It’s also spelled high jinks.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 12, 2015
cant wait to see what delightful april fools pranks and silly hijinks all the ~☆♡brands♡☆~ have planned for us tomorrow!!!! going to be hard to fall asleep tonight!!!!!!!!!!
— raina douris (@RahRahRaina) April 1, 2019
Things I learned from sitcoms no. 2: If you overhear part of a conversation and act on the incomplete information, hijinks will ensue.
— Fighting a Migraine (@OminousHallways) December 15, 2020
Try using hijinks!
Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of hijinks?
Example sentences from the Web for high jinks
An oblique view of baseball full of hijinks, havoc, and humor, this is fandom to the extreme.Home Runs, Frozen Ropes, And Some Wild Cards In Best Baseball Books|Robert Birnbaum|April 11, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Such hijinks were commonplace, and fueled by the abuse of what had been a respectable and highly esteemed American whiskey.Hillbilly Heaven: The History of Small-Batch Bourbon|Dane Huckelbridge|March 29, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Food that you can eat day after day is real food, unlike the molecular hijinks to be found all around the world.
Florida is well known for crazy hijinks, but the Sunshine State may have outdone itself this time.Oops? Florida Has Outlawed Computers and Smartphones, Says New Lawsuit|Eliza Shapiro|July 10, 2013|DAILY BEAST
The territorial sects have a history of shady hijinks that have kept them all continuously on edge.Christian Monks Square Off at One of Jerusalem’s Holiest Sites|Nina Strochlic|July 4, 2013|DAILY BEAST
British Dictionary definitions for high jinks
Idioms and Phrases with 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.