Green’s Dictionary of Slang

ink n.

[colour or metonymy]

1. [late 19C-1930s] a note; writing.

2. [20C+] (Aus./N.Z./US) a cheap red wine [DNZE also suggests rhy. sl. = drink].

3. [1910s–40s] (US, also ink face) a derog. term for a black person, esp. with a very dark complexion.

4. [1920s–40s] strong, bitter coffee.

5. [1930s+] publicity; a mention in the newspapers.

6. [1980s+] a tattoo.

7. [1910s+] (US) a police or prison record.

In derivatives

inky (n.)

(Aus.) one who is tattooed.

In compounds

ink face (n.)

see sense 2 above.

ink-spitter (n.)

[1980s+] (US) a derog. term for a black person.

inkspot (n.)

[1910s–60s] (US) a black person, usu. derog; also as adj.

In phrases

get some ink (v.)

[1910s+] to receive coverage in the printed media for one’s actions, speech etc.

sling ink (v.)

1. [1990s+] (US prison) to apply a tattoo.

2. see also SE phrs. below.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

ink-bottle (n.) [note Royal Navy jargon ink-slinger, the purser’s clerk]

[late 19C–1900s] a clerk.

ink-flinging (n.)

[late 19C] journalism, writing, also attrib; the inference is of negative opinions.

ink-jerker (n.) (also ink-squirter) [Farmer (1889) has the lesser known synon. adjective-jerker]

1. [mid-19C–1910s] (US) a writer, esp. a journalist.

2. [1900s] (Aus.) a clerk.

ink-pot (n.)

1. a sly, dishonest lawyer.

2. [1910s–50s] (US Und.) anywhere people gather to drink (either a private house or a bar) esp. when frequented by criminals.

ink-slinger (n.) (also inkist, ink-walloper)

1. [mid-19C+] (orig. US) a writer, esp. a journalist.

2. [1910s–60s] a clerk.

3. [1930s] a musician who arranges music.

ink-slinging (n.)

[mid-19C+] the profession of writing or journalism.

ink-spiller (n.) (also ink-shedder, -waster)

[mid-19C–1910s] a writer, usu. a journalist or clerk.

inkwell (n.) (also inkhorn)

[1940s+] (US) the vagina.

In phrases

make black ink (v.) [SE black ink, as opposed to red ink, denotes the profit side of a ledger]

[1930s] (US) to make money.

shed ink (v.)

[late 19C] to write, usu. more general than the professional .

sling ink (v.)

1. [mid-19C+] (orig. US, also spill ink) to write, esp. professionally, to work as a journalist.

2. [late 19C] (Aus.) to vilify in print.

3. see also sl. phrs. above.