from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive & transitive verb To make or cause to make a light, sharp ringing sound.
  • noun A light, sharp ringing sound, as of glass or metal.
  • noun A prison or a prison cell; a jail.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To ring or jingle; chink; give forth a sharp metallic sound, or a succession of such sounds, as small metallic or other sonorous bodies in collision.
  • To cause a clinking sound by striking two objects, as glasses, together.
  • To make a jingle; chime.
  • To cause to produce a sharp, ringing sound: as, to clink glasses in drinking healths.
  • To clench; weld; clasp; seize quickly.
  • noun A sharp, ringing sound made by the collision of sonorous (especially metallic) bodies.
  • noun A smart stroke.
  • noun Money; chink: as, “needfu' clink,”
  • noun A latch.
  • noun A key.
  • noun plural Long iron nails.
  • noun The name of a prison or lockup in Southwark, London, often mentioned in the sixteenth century and later.
  • noun [lowercase] Any prison.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To cause to give out a slight, sharp, tinkling, sound, as by striking metallic or other sonorous bodies together.
  • noun colloq. A prison cell; a lockup; -- probably orig. the name of the noted prison in Southwark, England.
  • intransitive verb To give out a slight, sharp, tinkling sound.
  • intransitive verb To rhyme. [Humorous].
  • noun A slight, sharp, tinkling sound, made by the collision of sonorous bodies.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun onomatopoeia The sound of metal on metal, or glass on glass.
  • noun slang Jail or prison, after the Clink prison in Southwark, London. Used in the phrase in the clink.
  • noun Stress cracks produced in metal ingots as they cool after being cast.
  • verb To make a clinking sound; to make a sound of metal on metal or glass on glass; to strike materials such as metal or glass against one another.

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

  • noun a correctional institution used to detain persons who are in the lawful custody of the government (either accused persons awaiting trial or convicted persons serving a sentence)
  • verb make a high sound typical of glass
  • verb make or emit a high sound
  • noun a short light metallic sound


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

[Middle English clinken, probably from Middle Dutch klinken, of imitative origin.]

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

[After Clink, a district of London famous for its prison.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

(onomatopoeia), as metal against metal.



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  • I like most slang for prisons. I also dig its onomatopoeic property.

    January 18, 2007

  • British slang - "Noun. Prison. It is derived either from the name of Clink Street, London, on which a prison was situated, or from the sound of doors locking."


    September 12, 2008

  • It's got to be from the sound of the doors, surely? Probably the street was named for its prison, or it was coincidence.

    September 12, 2008

  • The OED has this to say about the second definition of "clink" (the first is the noise, derived from German or Dutch klink):

    "The evidence appears to indicate that the name was proper to the Southwark ‘Clink’, and thence transferred elsewhere; but the converse may have been the fact. If the name was originally descriptive, various senses of clink, e.g. ‘to fasten securely’ (cf. ‘to get the clinch’, CLINCH n. 7), might have given rise to it. Cf. also CLINK n.4

    The name of a noted prison in Southwark; later used elsewhere (esp. in Devon and Cornwall) for a small and dismal prison or prison-cell, a lock-up. Now used generally for: prison, cells."

    And "clinch n.7" says this: "1847 G. W. M. REYNOLDS Myst. London III. xxv. 71/2 Should you do this and get the clinch. 1873 Slang Dict., To get the clinch: to be locked up in jail."

    Also, interestingly, clink can mean "A very small poor ale, brewed chiefly for the use of harvest labourers." Doesn't someone have a list of different kinds of alcohol?

    September 13, 2008

  • A prison door doesn't go 'clink'. That's a small noise appropriate to wine glasses. Doors, especially big doors, might go 'clank'.

    September 13, 2008

  • qroqqa, I refer you to weirdnet's eighth definition.

    September 13, 2008

  • Wow. That's so...specific.

    September 13, 2008

  • Someone does now, c_b.

    September 13, 2008

  • I've had one too (just for liqueurs), and I'm sure there are others. :-)

    September 14, 2008

  • And I've got Wort to the Wise, which has various drinks amongst other brewing terms. If you look under porter, you'll find some other beer lists.

    There should be one called What Ales You, however.

    September 15, 2008