These are not the ginks you’re looking for

McEldowney’s meaning for gink must be quite different from the one I am most familiar with!

The Urban Dictionary of course gives some dozen unrelated entries of varying plausibility, some of which could work in this cartoon context. (But none of which are exactly mine.) The slang section of is more sober, but the main American entry could work with the cartoon:

noun SlangSometimes Disparaging and Offensive.

a person; fellow.

Is that all there is to it? Or do you see a better fit for one of the other definitions?


  1. It gets even more confusing when you consider that on the previous day, Sam Thorax (the guy in gray) used the same word to describe himself:

    Not only does this call the source‡ of the definition into question, it makes me wonder whether McEldowney was using the same sense of the word for both strips. However, since his primary purpose is to show Peaches (the girl) in compromising positions, the text is rather superfluous.

    P.S. At least when David Ward was researching for “The Sting”, he made sure that he got the period lingo correct and authentic. Heck, even Watterson did a better job with Tracer Bullet:

  2. P.P.S. ‡ – In days of old, Bill placed both the name and the URL of the “U. D.” on CIDU’s moderation trigger list, since the text found there was quite frequently crude, rude, and not fit for public consumption (i.e., NSFW). Moreover, the information found there is crowd-sourced, unedited, and therefore unreliable (barring independent confirmation). The multitude of entries shown for the word in question here would seem to demonstrate both points.

  3. My brief glance seems to show that it means “a lightly derogatory term for a man or boy perceived to be odd”, which the Google Ngram viewer shows as being very popular, very briefly, right around 1918. Which seems to be in line for how Thorax would describe himself, but is a bit anachronistic for a 1930s noir.

    Then again, Thorax is the kind of gink who probably would use a decade-out-of-date term for himself as a noir detective.

  4. Ian, is it actually Thorax referring to himself as a gink? The speech bubble tails are twisty, but look to me it is the redheaded woman (sorry, I don’t know who she is) saying that longish bit of dialogue with all the instances of gink.

    Edited to add: Though Kilby has done us the favor of looking into previous episodes of the strip, and finds Thorax indeed is the one starting the gink business.

  5. So why wasn’t the safety engaged before? I get it, he’s hard-boiled, but either he’s a gink who’s careful, or he’s a gink who isn’t, so either the safety is on at all times, or it’s not.

    PS: Mitch: I thought that was a nice detail, having the word balloons be as twisted up together as the characters are.

  6. FWIW here is the definition and the examples from the OED:

    slang (originally U.S.). Frequently derogatory.
    A fellow, a guy; esp. an odd, eccentric, or foolish man; someone who is unworldly or socially inept.

    1906 National Police Gaz. (U.S.) 5 May 3/1 The gink that knows it all thinks he’s so damned smart.
    1909 Collier’s 7 Aug. 10/1 One kind old gink comes down and takes me by the arm.
    1919 P. G. Wodehouse Damsel in Distress ii I’m certain this gink is giving her a raw deal.
    1927 Sunday Express 6 Feb. 4 One of America’s noblemen, a great pirate, a gink with nerve.
    1961 Times 19 Dec. 7/7 There are ginks running these schools and interfering with small boys.
    1992 Grain Spring 61 He spotted our table and waved like a gink.
    2015 J. Patterson Miracle at Augusta i. 7 I watch the little gink shuffle out of the back, his backpack hanging off one shoulder and his baseball cap turned backwards.

  7. My mom, b.1916, used to say gink meant just a guy, no derogatory meaning. Maybe it’s one of those words that lends itself to a suggestive, “other,” connotation. Seems like it’s been trying for a long time to edge into that negative position, but some dictionaries don’t quite give it that distinction, eh?

    btw, is nebulosity a word? Gonna go look it up.

  8. wanted me to pick between who & whom.
    Always who. Whom should be expunged from everyone’s vocabulary.

  9. Ragtime enthusiasts think of George L. Cobb’s composition “Peter Gink.”

    If you listen to it you will find many non-coincidental similarities to Edward Grieg’s Peer Gynt.

  10. That’s not Peaches, that’s Myrtle. Peaches (portrayed I believe by Esmee, Thorax’s actual love interest) was in a previous segment of this fantasy or whatever and got the Maltese Falcon treatment at the end. I think that’s Juliette in this sequence.

  11. A quick look at brought up a few entries where “Gink” (or Ginky) was a character’s name. It also brought up a ton of German titles.

  12. Brian in STL: And in the old 9 CHICKWEED LANE CLASSIC (reprints) , Thorax has been romancing Juliette’s mother (Edda Birber’s grandmother) for a couple of years now. It’s kinks (ginks?) all the way down. . . .

  13. @ Brian – Thanks for the clarification. In addition to getting the characters muddled, it’s time to admit that the first time I read the top strip, I misraveled the balloon knot, and thought she was carrying the .38 pistol.

    P.S. @ larK – “… either he’s a gink who’s careful, or he’s a gink who isn’t, so either the safety is on … or it’s not.

    He has the safety on, so he’s careful, and she likes that. On the other hand, she’s trying to give him a full-body French kiss, so she would prefer that he not be so careful as not to respond in kind.

  14. Well, today’s strip reveals that “Myrtle” does have a gun, but it’s a revolver. My recollection is that those don’t have manual safeties.

Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.