/ (dʒɪŋks) /
Save This Word!

pl n
boisterous or mischievous play (esp in the phrase high jinks)
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Word Origin for jinks

C18: of unknown origin

Words nearby jinks

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


What does jinks mean?

The noun jinks refers to prankish or mischievous activities. It is a plural form of jink.

Jinks is rarely used, except for in the much more common term high jinks (also commonly spelled hijinks), which refers to playful, mischievous, or rowdy activity.

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. 

The word jink can also be used as a verb meaning to move quickly or in a jerky motion to elude or avoid something. It can also be used as a noun referring to such a movement. These senses of the word are also not commonly used. A much more common word that means the same thing is juke.

Jinks should not be confused with jinx, which can be a noun referring to something that brings bad luck or a verb meaning to bring bad luck to—to place a jinx on.

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 jinks come from?

The first records of the word jinks in reference to mischievous behavior come from right around 1700. This sense of the word 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.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for jinks?

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

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

What are some words jinks may be commonly confused with?

How is jinks used in real life?

Jinks is rarely used outside of the term high jinks.


Try using jinks!

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

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

How to use jinks in a sentence

Other Idioms and Phrases with jinks


see high jinks.

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