General English


  • adjective relating to political views that are slightly left wing


  • adjective a code or facetious term for gay adopted from the heterosexual lexicon by the male homosexual community for ironic or semi-ironic self-reference. (The Nazis affixed pink triangles to homosexuals.) Lavender is a similar usage.
  • noun the female genitals. This term, which arose in the language of pornographers, prostitutes, etc., was picked up in show-business jargon in such phrases as ‘surrender the pink’ (the title of a book by the actress Carrie Fisher) and the name Kissing the Pink adopted by an early 1990s rock band.

Origin & History of “pink”

English has three distinct words pink. The colour term (18th c.) appears to have come, by a bizarre series of twists, from an early Dutch word meaning ‘small’. This was pinck (source also of the colloquial English pinkie ‘little finger’ (19th c.)). It was used in the phrase pinck oogen, literally ‘small eyes’, hence ‘half-closed eyes’, which was borrowed into English and partially translated as pink eyes. It has been speculated that this was a name given to a plant of the species Dianthus, which first emerged in the abbreviated form pink in the 16th century. many of these plants have pale red flowers, and so by the 18th century pink was being used for ‘pale red’.

Pink ‘pierce’ (14th c.), now preserved mainly in pinking shears, is probably of Low German origin (Low German has pinken ‘peck’). And pink (of an engine) ‘make knocking sounds’ (20th c.) is presumably imitative in origin.