High Jinks

Where did this come from?

By Deane Barker

Everyone knows what this means, but no one is really sure of the etymology.

The word “high” is easy, in the sense that it just amplifies what comes after it (“high fashion,” “high crime”). But what does “jinks” mean?

It was a dice game at one time, and it’s been used as slang to mean “to move erratically” (it gets mentioned in American football quite a bit). But there seems to be no authoritative definition for it.

Perhaps it’s just a funny word that sounds a bit like what it describes? Sort of an onomatopoeia meets neologism?

Why I Looked It Up

I just got to wondering one day.

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