This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Word To Use Today:dinkum.

Am I allowed to use the word dinkum, or is it only for Australians and New Zealanders?

I can't honestly see myself being able to use it without attracting ridicule, and this is a real shame. Dinkum is so...perky...and, as you'll have noticed, there's nothing like a good perk.

Dinkum means real (in England we use the phrase the real deal, in Australia and New Zealand they have the dinkum deal), true (dinkum oil is the truth), genuine ("as every dinkum Aussie knows, booing the Prime Minister at sporting events is the Australian way") and honest.

Fair dinkum asks if what's been said is true. "You used to be a wombat juggler? Fair dinkum?" It can also reinforce the idea of fairness: "it cost a fortune, but fair dinkum considering it's made of kakapo droppings".
I feel greatly envious of those who can use the word dinkum. I did find a company online that declared that "Dinkum is the leading supplier of drinks concepts within the UK": but that just makes my head hurt.

But then up popped Joseph Wright. In his English Dialect Dictionary of 1896-1905 he found the word dinkum being used in quite a few parts of England. In this case dinkum meant a fair amount of work. He even found fair dinkum being used in Lincolnshire, where it was used as a plea for honest dealing.

So, does that mean I can use dinkum, now?

Um...still probably not, I'm afraid. Still, at least now I can think it with a clear conscience, can't I.

Word To Use Today, Though Possibly Only Internally: dinkum. There are those who claim the word comes from a Chinese phrase din gum that means real gold, but the English derivation, though obscure, is really more likely.



  1. Go ahead and use it!
    I was born and bred in NZ, then lived in Australia for 5 years before heading to Canada. I brought 'fair dinkum' with me.
    If it can be used here, it can be used in England!
    Fair dinkum!

    PS - I never heard dinkum used by itself. But it's been a number of years since I was down that way!

    1. Your authority is unquestionable, then, Jingles. I'll practise saying dinkum in my most English possible way.

  2. I always thought it was "Faired income". Dunno why, as that barely makes any sense at all, and serves me right for watching Neighbours in my formative years.

    1. No, no! I think you've solved the mystery, Eddie. That's brilliant. A plea for a fair income is exactly what it was in the early Lincolnshire examples.
      I doubt it can be proved, but you've convinced me.