Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A slight hint or indication.
  • n. A slight understanding or vague idea or notion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A slight suspicion or hint.
  • n. Inclination, desire.
  • v. Present participle of inkle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A hint; an intimation.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A hint; an intimation; a slight or imperfect idea or notion.
  • n. Inclination; desire.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a slight suggestion or vague understanding

Etymologies

Probably alteration of Middle English (a) ningkiling, (a) hint, suggestion, possibly alteration of nikking, from nikken, to mark a text for correction, from nik, notch, tally, perhaps from variant of Old French niche, niche; see niche.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from inklen, inclen ("to give an inkling of, hint at, mention, utter in an undertone"), from inke ("apprehension, misgiving"), from Old English inca ("doubt, suspicion"), from Proto-Germanic *inkô (“ache, regret”), from Proto-Indo-European *yenǵ- (“illness”). Cognate with Old Frisian jinc ("angered"), Old Norse ekki ("pain, grief"), Norwegian ekkje ("lack, pity"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It's hard to know where to start when your best inkling is to read some papers and try to find time with the overbooked senior graduate student.

    Postdoc Possibilities and Preferences

  • "If I do, the inkling is to want to pitch to him, but maybe there's a situation where we pitch around him," he said.

    USATODAY.com - Angels' plan for Bonds: It depends

  • She'll maybe have had some inkling from the Lord that her bairn was coming.

    Kirsteen: The Story of a Scotch Family Seventy Years Ago

  • I’m getting in inkling of why CBS says they had to shut down comments on on Obama stories. dsbo lhxromacd Says:

    Matthew Yglesias » Kagan’s Obama

  • But, just the same, the inkling is a built-in nuance or, "tell"; and it does exist.

    American Chronicle

  • Just how you managed to work "inkling" into a discussion that started out with Tolkien and Lewis!

    Making Light: Open thread 136

  • I just cannot believe, no offense to the bride, that there was just no "inkling" this "wedding cake lady" to be kind was less than professional?

    I Think I've Just Been Punk'd

  • How much in advance I don't know, but we would probably have some kind of inkling that it was going on.

    Hits and Missiles

  • If Ms. Fox had an 'inkling' [phonetic/pun] of what it is to simply deliver the product, she might want to consider washing her hands of the whole thing.

    Election update

  • But then folks here at home opened up their USA Today newspaper, heard about this domestic database, and they said we should have had some kind of inkling consistent with national security about what was really going on.

    CNN Transcript May 21, 2006

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Comments

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  • see first comment in this grouping

    March 28, 2012

  • The first inkling of animal clarity was already there, a kind of vicious joy in the power that would come. From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    March 27, 2012

  • See ninkling.

    October 3, 2008

  • In the English translation of Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, INKlings are 'Infra-Nocturnal Kappa'. From 'The Use of Certain Fantastic Concepts in the Fiction of Murakami Haruki' (PDF):

    '...a subterranean labyrinth underneath Tokyo which is inhabited by creatures called yamikuro (an invented word which might be rendered "Darkling")... In this I concur with Susan Napier's suggestion, rather than Birnbaum's acronymic "INKlings", or "infra-nocturnal Kappa", which is entirely his own invention, the need for which is not readily apparent.'

    November 3, 2007

  • If I could be part of any "secret society" or somesuch legendary thing, I would join the Inklings.

    October 12, 2007

  • a group at Oxford in the early 20th century with such members as c.s. lewis, owen barfield, J R tolkien ..... who are both prophets and smudge pots... who both had clear and smudge thought were called the "Inklings"...did they have a clue of their impact???????

    October 12, 2007