What does it mean to jink?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: jink….

I’d heard rave reviews of Anne Enright’s writing since 2007 when her breakout novel The Gathering won the Man Booker prize. Nevertheless, I’d never managed to read a single of the Irish author’s books until late last year, when I raced through The Green Road. What a magnificent novel! The story of a fractious family on Ireland’s Atlantic coast the book describes the lives of four siblings and their difficult, cantankerous mother.

It also gave me my word of the week, jinked. Here’s how the author used it:

If Hanna ever tried to catch a hen, they jinked away so fast she was afraid she might give them a heart attack, but her granny just picked on up, and there it was, tucked under the crook of her arm, its red-brown feathers shining in the sun.

Although I’d never heard the verb before, of course I could figure out what it meant by the context of the sentence. Still, looking it up in the dictionary proved fruitful. This allowed me to clarify that it didn’t just mean “to run” but, instead, specifically meant, “to change direction suddenly and nimbly, as when dodging a pursuer.”

Interestingly, the word is Scottish in origin, thought to date back to 1715, meaning “to wheel or fling about in dancing.” It’s also related to the phrase high jinks, which comes from a  name of games played at drinking parties


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