Green’s Dictionary of Slang

ink n.

[colour or metonymy]

1. a note; writing.

[UK]Newcastle Courant 16 Sept. 6/5: In case he returns I’ll leave him this drop ink.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 1 Oct. 11/1: Hi boss. that’s some fine ink Calloway laid on you.

2. (Aus.) blood.

[Aus]‘Dads Wayback’ in Sun. Times (Sydney) 8 June 5/4: When they’s made aristocrats [...] [t]her blood in ther bodies is all changed in color from red to blue. If yer pricks er aristocrat he just spurts blue ink.

3. (Aus./N.Z./US) a cheap red wine, thus on the ink, drunk [DNZE also suggests rhy. sl. = drink].

[UK]Kipling ‘The Bonds of Discipline’ Traffics and Discoveries 52: I’ll lay you a dozen o’ liquorice an’ ink’ — it must ha’ been that new tawny port – ‘that I’ve got a ship I can trust’.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 25 May 14/4: They Say [...] That Young ’un S, says he bought his felty while on the Ink (turn it up Reggie).
R.W. Imbrie Behind the Wheel of a War Ambulance 115: Wine was ‘ink’.
[Aus]E.G. Murphy ‘Pink’ Dryblower’s Verses 81: I’ve seen ’im in a brawl / Full of ink.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 107: Ink. – Cheap red wine.
[Aus] (ref. to 1920s–30s) Hepworth & Hindle Boozing out in Melbourne Pubs 15: Affectionate nicknames for the stuff itself [i.e. wine] were: scarlet runner, ink, paint.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 82: Most striking is the lack of terms for drinking and drunk. There are only 7 in 435: conk-buster, ink, King Kong, and kong all refer to cheap varieties of wine and liquor.

4. (US, also ink face) a derog. term for a black person, esp. with a very dark complexion.

[US]H.E. Rollins ‘A West Texas Word List’ in DN IV:iii 227: ink, n. A negro. ‘We’ve got a new ink for a cook.’.
[US]R. Fisher Walls Of Jericho 297: Synonyms of Negro [...] : hunky, ink, jap.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 129: ink face A negro.
[US]I.L. Allen Lang. of Ethnic Conflict 46: Color Allusions, Other than ‘Black’ and ‘Negro’: ink [also ink-face, ink-spitter, inky-dink].

5. strong, bitter coffee.

[US]C. Samolar ‘Argot of the Vagabond’ in AS II:9 389: Other names for coffee are ink, mud, alkali and embalming fluid.
[US]P. Kendall Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: Coffee [...] ink.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

6. publicity; a mention in the newspapers.

[[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 75/2: Chuck out ink (Press Reporters’) To write articles].
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 1 Nov. [synd. col.] The society scoopers devoted lots of ink to the romance.
[US]A.J. Liebling Honest Rainmaker (1991) 26: The two [editors] had exchanged acrimonious ink.
L. Schecter Jocks 4: They never got a lot of what sports people call ‘ink’ I’ve given them some.
[US](con. 1969) M. Herr Dispatches 7: Amazing what some of them would do for a little ink.
[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 106: Naw, they had Patty Hearst [...] Got plenty of ink.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 98: The paper loved Maynard Moore. Moore got more ink than Jack Ruby.
[US](con. 1960s) J. Ellroy Blood’s a Rover 15: His front-page ink. No mention of him.

7. a tattoo.

[US] in C. Crowe Wild Life [film script] I got some new ink. Don’t touch [HDAS].
[US]J. Stahl Permanent Midnight 165: He had more ink than Satan: calves, neck, and arms a near solid catalog of tattooed Aryan brotherhood icons.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 121: Up and down my twelve inches was that crazy tattoo that said Actual Size in big block letters. ‘Nice ink,’ she goes.
[US]C. Goffard Snitch Jacket 3: His body had collected ink from Soledad to Starke.
[US]C. Hiaasen Star Island (2011) 45: Another low-rent rocker, covered with cheap Venice ink.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] Hell, there’s a parlor every other corner now and half the guys walking around the neighborhood have ink.
[US]C. Hiaasen Squeeze Me 244: [G]ood smile and no visible ink.

8. (US) a police or prison record.

Jackson Dly News (MS) 1 Apr. 7/1: Crook Chatter [...] ‘That’s the hell of having your “ink” in the “hall”,’ he lamented bitterly.
[US]J. Stahl Plainclothes Naked (2002) 113: Ranick had more ink than Satan and thought he was dangerous.

In derivatives

inky (n.)

(Aus.) one who is tattooed.

[US]People 5 July 74/1: ‘Got a job?’ ‘Nah, I actually want to open my own business — a tattoo shop.’ ‘You’re an inky?’ ‘Nah, my other half is.’.

In compounds

ink face (n.)

see sense 2 above.

inkhead (n.)

(N.Z. prison) derog./racist term for a M?ori with facial tattoos.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 92/2: inkhead n. a white supremacist term for a Māori with facial tattoos.
ink shop (n.)

(US) a tattoo parlor.

[US]T. Robinson Hard Bounce [ebook] Junior and me hit the ink shops with the picture of Snake and came up with zilch.
ink-spitter (n.)

(US) a derog. term for a black person.

[US](con. 1930s) B. Short Black and White Baby 53: I can remember evil, catty comments the high-school girls made about each other. A pale-skinned classmate would be jealously dismissed as ‘wasted yellow,’ a dark-skinned classmate put down as a ‘black ink-spitter’.
[US]I.L. Allen Lang. of Ethnic Conflict 46: Color Allusions, Other than ‘Black’ and ‘Negro’: ink [also ink-face, ink-spitter, inky-dink].
inkspot (n.)

(US) a black person, usu. derog; also as adj.

[US]N.Y. Eve. Journal 7 May 10: You love that little ink-spot [HDAS].
[US]A. Bontemps God Sends Sun. 18: Little ink-spot jockeys.
Dakin Dialect Vocab. Ohio River Valley 2.449: Other miscellaneous terms, all clearly derogatory in intent . . burr head, [...] and ink spot.

In phrases

get some ink (v.)

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

P.H. Aykroyd Anniversary Compulsion 64: Fisher had hired a publicist to get some ink and air time out of the junket.
Saratoga (CA) News 10 Apr. 🌐 The person in charge, Community Access Director Carolyn De Los Santos, under whose feet no grass grows when it comes to promoting the cause, was only too happy at the prospect of getting some ink for it.
sling ink (v.)

1. (US prison) to apply a tattoo.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 85: Slingin’ Ink also Sling Ink The application of a tattoo.

2. see also SE phrs. below.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

ink-flinging (n.)

journalism, writing, also attrib; the inference is of negative opinions.

[UK] ‘’Arry on Women’s Rights’ Punch 2 Apr. 156/2: What with ink-flinging, hart, and all that, / They’re a-besting us fast, my dear boy.
[UK]Preston Chron. 17 June 4/5: A continual stream of correspondence, and not a little of it refers to matters [...] too small for what the Yankees call ‘ink-flinging’.
[Aus]N. Melbourne Advertiser 30 Mar. 3/2: Beware, all ye scribbling, ink-flinging, salanderous tribes of critics.
[Aus]Healesville Guardian (Lilydale, Vic.) 21 Aug. 1/3: It must be amusing to your readers to read, from the ever-growing army of critics, how they protest that they have no Intention of indulging in ink-flinging and then proceed to do so.
ink-jerker (n.) (also ink-squirter) [Farmer (1889) has the lesser known synon. adjective-jerker]

1. (US) a writer, esp. a journalist.

[US]Harper’s Mag. 683/2: This rattle-brained scribbler, this miserable ink-jerker [DA].
[Aus]Port Augusta Dispatch (SA) 5 Aug. 3/2: [A] rev. gentleman [...] wants £1,000 for some damage alleged to have been done by the ink-jerker of the Maryborough Standard.
[UK]B. Mitford Aletta 34: Maagtig! but they are liars, those English news-paper men [...] I would like to get those miserable ink-squirters who wrote that.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 11 May 7/3: Skinny Jim, the ink jerker from the sacred precincts of the Herald office.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 207: ink-jerker, -slinger, -spiller, -waster, a scribbler.

2. (Aus.) a clerk.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 31 Dec. 6/3: ‘Good job for him lie went,’ said young Sprigging, senior ink-jerker.
ink-pot (n.)

1. a sly, dishonest lawyer.

[UK]F.W. Hume Hagar of the Pawn-Shop 7: Here, stop that stuff, you inkpot!

2. (US Und.) anywhere people gather to drink (either a private house or a bar) esp. when frequented by criminals.

[US]O. Kildare My Mamie Rose 23: My father’s popularity made our home the calling place for many visitors. At these visits the most frequently used utensil was the ‘can,’ or ‘growler,’ and the functions usually assumed the character of an ‘ink pot.’.
[US]J. Sullivan ‘Criminal Sl.’ in Amer. Law Rev. LII (1918) 891: An ‘ink pot’ is a resort for low characters.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 106/2: Inkpot. A drinking establishment, especially as a rendezvous for underworld members.
ink-slinger (n.) (also inkist, ink-walloper)

1. (orig. US) a writer, esp. a journalist.

Santa Cruz Wkly Sentinel (CA) 21 Dec. 2/3: The historic scraps compiled by irresponsible ink-slingers and sold broad-cast over the State.
[UK]Sportsman (London) 28 Dec. 3/5: [O]ur double-refined and treble-distilled ink-slingers of the daily press.
[Aus]Australasian (Melbourne) 29 Mar. 7/4: A St. Louis editor, in speaking of a brother ink-slinger, says: ‘He is young yet [etc]’.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms (4th edn) 786: Ink-Slinger. One who habitually writes for publication; particularly an editor or reporter of a newspaper.
[UK] ‘’Arry on His Critics and Champions’ Punch 14 Apr. 180/1: The ink-slinger’s plainly a flat.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Mar. 14/3: The auctioneer wasted most of his valuable time in explaining to his adversary and the surrounding spectators that nothing but the keenest sense of his own magnanimity and the exorbitant charges made for funerals prevented him from mashing the ink-slinger up into stuffing for sausage-rolls.
Texas Siftings Oct 13 n.p.: You don’t consider that insignificant ink-slinger across the way a big gun, do you? [F&H].
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 14 Apr. 2/8: H.A. Leighton, an ink-slinger not devoid of fame, and who can wield a facile pen [etc.].
[UK] ‘Harry on ’Arry’ Punch 17 Aug. in P. Marks (2006) 23: All this talk about ’Arries Abroad, which ink-slingers think such prime fun.
[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 20: ink slinger n. A writer.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 26 July 4/7: An unsuspecting inkslinger in the employ of the Sunday Times.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 July 28/1: And the players and the playing, so you’d make it all appear, / Are no class for soulful wallopers of ink.
[UK]Sporting Times 25 Feb. 3/3: I am a humble inkslinger.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 2 Sept. 1/1: The amount of gushful trash splashed over that cheery soubrette must disgust even the recipient [...] one callow inkist discovered that Grace had an ‘operatic training’.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 11 Jan. 5/6: The ‘slush’ is provided by beery and amateur cockney ink-slingers.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Aug. 2/4: He was a rather quaint and querulous cuss at times, but a better-hearted inkslinger or type-slinger would be hard to find.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 207: ink-jerker, -slinger, -spiller, -waster, a scribbler.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 99: Must be a big board of classy ink-slingers in conference.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bull. (Qld) 25 Feb. 14/2: Bowyung, my boy, is just a kid who’s slinging ink in Townsville.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 268: The editor of Western Yarns writes me that the fans are panting to know what their favorite ink-slinger looks like in the flesh.
Copper Camp 94: They didn’t dare press the search too closely for fear [...] any suspicious action might disclose the secret to the ink slingers [DA].
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 117: You’re going to let this ink-slinger get away with it, are you?
J.B. Sanford Intruders in Paradise 54: To the inkslinger, the balladeer, and the teller of tall tales, he wasn’t a kid anymore: he was a saga all by hisself.

2. a clerk.

[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 38: Ink Slingers, office clerks.
[US]S. Ford Torchy 72: Mildred cost the firm a lot more money than her salary, if you reckon up as worth anything the time a lot of two-by-four ink-slingers spent makin’ goo-goo eyes at her.
[US]G.D. Chase ‘Lists From Maine’ in DN IV i 3: pencil pusher, n. A clerk in a lumber camp. Also called ink slinger.
[US]W. Edge Main Stem 59: Wotcha tryin’ ter do? Chew de fat wit’ de inkslinger?
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 107: Inkslinger. – A clerk or other office worker.
[US] ‘Timberland Terminology’ AS XVI:3 233/2: inkslinger. Any office worker but usually the timekeeper.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 804: ink slinger – A clerk or other office worker.
Hoffman & Kanter Hbk of Law Firm Mismanagement 24: [...] an inkslinger with a decipherable hand to prepare the tabs.

3. a musician who arranges music.

[US]R.B. Nye ‘A Musician’s Word List’ in AS XII:1 46: inkslinger. A musician who arranges music.
[US]P.E. Miller Down Beat’s Yearbook of Swing n.p.: ink slinger: an arranger.
ink-slinging (n.)

the profession of writing or journalism.

[US]White Cloud Kansas Chief (KS) 2 Nov. 3/3: A Quartermaster’s farewell Address [...] four years’ arduous serrice, marked by unsurpassed ink-slinging and unparallelled hard cursing.
[UK]Hartlepool Mail 25 Nov. 3/5: Ink Slinging in Texas. Colonel Bill Snort, who runs the Crisby County Clarion, has fallen out with the editor of a rival sheet.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the Battle of Life’ Punch 21 Sept. in P. Marks (2006) 136: Mere ink-slinging slop.
[UK]E.J. Milliken ’Arry Ballads 91: Wot with ink-slinging, hart, and all that.
[Aus]Coburg Leader (Vic.) 19 Oct. 4/2: Bentley has gone to graft at ink slinging.
ink-spiller (n.) (also ink-shedder, -waster)

a writer, usu. a journalist or clerk.

[Ire]Waterford News 24 Apr. 4/1: In this way the sixty millions of Russians are governed by a host of ink spillers.
[US]Harper’s Mag. Aug. 428/2: The marriage question, viewed from the pecunious viewpoint, has become the topic of so many ink-shedders abroad as well as at home [DA].
Times-Picayune (N.O.) 14 May 12/3: Miss Markham says she assured the inexorable ink-spiller that she had no story to tell, but he drew on his fancy to give the book zest.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Fashion’ Punch 10 Sept. 110/2: O Scissors! it makes a chap shirty, it do s’welp me never, dear boy / To think people ain’t got more savvy than what these inkspillers enjoy.
[Scot]Glasgow Herald 23 Nov. 3/8: A fourth-rate ink-spiller at a high desk behind a counter.
[UK] ‘’Arry on a ’ouseboat’ Punch 15 Aug. 77/1: Us on ’Opkins’s Ouse-boat [...] cared nix for the ink-spiller’s ‘slate.’.
Tit-Bits 7 Apr. 7/3: You insulting ink-waster [F&H].
[UK]Yorks Eve. Post 18 Feb. 4/5: An abiding and unabashed ink-spiller. Scarce a post but brings her tale of woe.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 207: ink-jerker, -slinger, -spiller, -waster, a scribbler.
inkwell (n.) (also inkhorn)

(US) the vagina.

[[UK] J. Cook Greenes Tu Quoque Scene xix: Hee’s the penner that belongs to that Inck-horne].
[US]G. Radano Stories Cops Only Tell Each Other 70: And then every once in a while a dab at the old inkwell.
[UK](con. 1940s) P. Barker Liza’s England (1996) 252: A man dips his pen in the inkwell, and you’re left reading the message for the next eighteen years.

In phrases

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

(US) to make money.

[US]D. Runyon ‘A Nice Price’ Runyon on Broadway (1954) 188: I [...] am sure to make plenty of black ink for myself.
shed ink (v.)

to write, usu. more general than the professional .

[UK]Sporting Times 29 Mar. [letter to Ed.] 2/4: About once in a blue moon, your obedient servant sheds ink.
sling ink (v.)

1. (orig. US, also spill ink) to write, esp. professionally, to work as a journalist.

[US]‘Artemus Ward’ Among the Mormons in Complete Works (1922) 277: The chaps that write for the ‘Atlantic,’ Betsy, understand their bizness. They can sling ink, they can.
[US]J.H. Beadle Undeveloped West 142: All who could sling ink became correspondents.
[US]Waco Eve. News (TX) 17 Oct. 2/1: Carroll can sling ink, and don’t you forget it.
[UK]Sporting Times 29 Mar. 2/5: I stands for the ‘ink’ that’s spilt by the staff / In their vigorous endeavours to make people laugh.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 July 13/2: Gov. Broome, who flourished in Westralia 15 years ago, had ‘slung ink.’ He was for a period a considerable contributor to the literary columns of London Times.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 26 Jan. 6/7: The late hubby spilt ink occasionally.
[US]‘Sing Sing No. 57,700’ My View on Books in N.Y. Times Mag. 30 Apr. 5/3: Tartarin of Tarascom [...] He’s got some class when it comes to slinging ink.
[UK]B.E.F. Times 15 Aug. (2006) 208/1: When the high-brow pens get busy slinging ink [...] they’ll throw the bull.
[UK]Dover Exp. 7 Jan. 8/7: They preferred to sling ink [and] consider schemes for improving the circulation of small papers like ‘Comic Cuts’.
[US]H.C. Witwer Roughly Speaking 3: Mr Alexander Pope, who slung some wicked ink the the good old days of 1700.
[US](con. 1918) E.W. Springs Rise and Fall of Carol Banks 133: You just struck a lucky time to sling your ink and found a soft-minded editor to buy your drool.
[UK] (ref. to 1920s) L. Duncan Over the Wall 32: Listen, if you start slinging ink on a bum check racket, you can do it all by your lonesome.

2. (Aus.) to vilify in print.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) May 1/3: One cannot now take up the daily papers without finding therein recriminatory ful rainations signed by W. E. Abbott, ‘President, Pastoralists Union, N.S.W.’, and Arthur Bae, ‘President, Australian Workers’ Union.’ Of course the political position [...] has nothing to do with this mutual slinging of ink!

3. see also sl. phrs. above.