Definitions

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

  • adj. Old-fashioned; worn-out.
  • adj. Insignificant; unimportant.
  • adj. Of cheap or poor quality; makeshift.
  • n. One that is regarded as old-fashioned, worn-out, insignificant, or cheap in quality.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of poor or inferior quality; hokey; sloppy; chintzy; small; flimsy; inadequate.

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • If Google just got contacts sharing right, sooooo many little rinky-dink Exchange wannabees would go out of business.

    Google Contacts Open To Non-Gmail Users | Lifehacker Australia

  • At 60, however, having reached a nadir — he loses his job teaching fifth-grade history at a second-rate school and moves from his substantial place to a “rinky-dink starter apartment” — he gets a do-over.

    Cover to Cover

  • Imagine a zombie-style outbreak film told within the confines of a rinky-dink radio station, as residents of Pontypool call in with the terrifying news of their neighbors and loved ones turning into rabid, murderous creatures.

    Wish List Wednesday #40: Pontypool Changes Everything

  • It starts off with two FBI agents, played by Bill Pullman and Julia Ormand, driving to a rinky-dink town in the middle of nowhere to investigate a mass murder that includes the death of one of the local police officers, played by French Stewart.

    Rabid Rewind: Surveillance

  • Japan "is not some Third World country with rinky-dink technology," said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

    Poll: Fears of nuclear disaster in U.S. rise after Japan quake

  • Now will you admit that your claim that all new mass transit projects are rinky-dink and are “dwarfed” by increases in car travel are flat-out wrong?

    Matthew Yglesias » Mass Transit is As American as Apple Pie

  • Last week, tricked by a crew from "The Daily Show" into believing that a group of visitors was from the Finnish philanthropic group the Daughters of Helsinki, Glenn Beck admitted that he adores Bill Moyers and thinks that "All Things Considered" makes his own show sound like "some rinky-dink college radio station from Paducah."

    The Gotcha Videos You Haven't Seen

  • The cities you mention have built a few dozen miles of rinky-dink light-rail lines that cover just a minuscule fraction of their urban areas and provide only a minuscule fraction of transportation each city, comparable to a busy bus route.

    Matthew Yglesias » Doing It Low-Tech

  • The rinky-dink light rail lines that have been built in various American cities over the past 30 years or so are far too limited have a significant effect on development.

    Matthew Yglesias » The American Urban Paradox

  • "I have this rinky-dink car that does not do well in this," Grove said.

    Winter Weather: Deadly Snowstorm Closes Major Roadways In Plains, Southwest

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  • The following etymology is taken word-for-word directly from the OED. If there are copyright issues, I'll understand.

    The first usage is: rinky-dink: rinky-dink, n. and a. slang (chiefly U.S.).

    (ˈrɪŋkɪdɪŋk)

    Also rinkey-dink, rinkydink, rinky-dinky.

    Orig. unknown: cf. ricky-tick n. and a.

    A.A n. Something that is worn out or antiquated; a worthless object. spec. a cheap place of entertainment. Also in phr. to give (someone) the rinky-dink and varr., to cheat or swindle (someone).

    First used -- 1912 A. H. Lewis Apaches N.Y. xii. 265 They was lyin'‥an' givin' each other th' rinkey-dink in th' old days same as now.    1922 J. A. Dunn Man Trap i. 8 Jimmy abhorred mining corporations with a lot of stockholders and a few of those liable at any moment to hand you the rinky-dink and freeze you out by due process of legal indifference toward small-fry claimants.    1942 Harper's Bazaar July 21/2 Don't give me the rinkydink.    1951 Atlantic Monthly Mar. 80/1, I think of Sweet Mama Stringbean as she was called when she played the Rinky-dinks for $25 a week.    1956 S. Longstreet Real Jazz 147 Rinky-dink is broken-down stuff.    1969 New Yorker 1 Nov. 6/2 Red Garter‥eighteen-nineties rinky-dink, complete with fire engine, but the banjo band is above average.    1977 Amer. Speech 1975 L. 65 Rinky-dink‥n, something that is cheap or worn out. ‘His car is a real rinky-dink.’ --

    October 29, 2014