Alternative formsEdit


  • (file)



  1. (informal) Of poor quality; shoddy, small-time, or amateurish.
    • 2007, Walter J. Boyne, The Yom Kippur War: And the Airlift Strike That Saved Israel, →ISBN:
      It was a rinky-dink way to run a war.
    • 2012, Thomas Guzman-Sanchez, Underground Dance Masters: Final History of a Forgotten Era, →ISBN:
      We'd put on little rinky-dink shows.
    • 2014, Jason Lewis, The Seed Buried Deep, →ISBN:
      The more obscure and rinky-dink the country, the more anally retentive the officialdom, and Kiribati was about as obscure and rinky-dink as it got.
    • 2017, Dennis Lehane, Since We Fell, →ISBN:
      It's a rinky-dink operation that owns a rinky-dink mine in Papua New Guinea.
    That rinky-dink shelf is likely to collapse if you fill it with books.
  2. Crooked; underhanded.
    • 1992, Newsweek - Volume 120, page 55:
      When NBC licensed his reruns to the Arts & Entertainment cable network without consulting him, he was incensed. "It was a rinky-dink deal," says a source.
    • 2012, Scott Pomfret, Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir, →ISBN, page 246:
      I asked Father Butterballino, “Why do it at all, if you're going to do it in this rinky-dink, sneaky way?” (phrased more diplomatically, of course).
    • 2012, Michael W. Cuneo, Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemption, →ISBN:
      He'd paid a fine on that rinky-dink deal at the courthouse in Forsyth the very next day.
  3. (music) Tinkling and tinny.
    • 2007, Johnny Stark, From Poverty to Silvered Wings of Flight, →ISBN, page 55:
      It had an extra floor pedal which gave the piano a rinky-dink sound like no other.
    • 2013, Conn Hamlett, John Lee Johnson and the Gunslingers, →ISBN, page 13:
      The loud rinky-dink music and the wafting blue cigar smoke made the scene a dime novel cover.
    • 2017, Kenneth LaFave, Experiencing Film Music: A Listener's Companion, →ISBN, page 32:
      But Humphrey Bogart's Philip Marlowe has no sax sound tagging along behind him, and when love interest Lauren Bacall makes her entrance at a swanky nightspot, a rinky-dink piano accompanies her sway; there's not a sax in sight (or sound).


rinky-dink (countable and uncountable, plural rinky-dinks)

  1. (countable) An amateur or someone who is underqualified.
    • 1962, Journal of Physical Education and Recreation - Volume 33, page 37:
      The point is that SCUBA diving is not for "rinky-dinks" ; it is for well trained people only, and then only in the company of other experienced divers.
    • 2005, Norman S. Pratt, Noble Conflict: A Vietnam War Novel, →ISBN, page 178:
      We've been ordered to some godforsaken place near Pleiku—the whole damn company, you and me and them other rinky-dinks back in Qui Nhon.
    • 2007, Jim Dent, The Undefeated: The Oklahoma Sooners and the Greatest Winning Streak in College Football, →ISBN:
      Of course, most of the great players were at war and there was no need to pay the rinky-dinks, who were merely occupying uniforms until the studs got back.
    • 2013, Eric J. DeMeulenaere, ‎Colette N. Cann, ‎& James E. McDermott, Reflections From The Field: How Coaching Made Us Better Teachers, →ISBN:
      A player one time said, "You never let me play with Alcindor (Abdul-Jabbar). I can do better if you let me play with him. Now you have me with some rinky-dinks.” I told him one time, “That's what somebody said about you when you were in there. You were one of the rinky-dinks.”
  2. (countable) Something that is not up to acceptable standards.
    • 1958, Society for Advancement of Management, Proceedings [of The] Measurement of Management Conference:
      But when we start getting really into the "rinky-dinks" of this thing is when we get over here in the columns
    • 1970, Ford E. Young, To the Regiment:
      Starting in late June of 1950, there were lots of "rinky-dinks to be unscrambled."
    • (Can we date this quote?), United States Congress Senate Committee on the Budget, Macroeconomic Issues and the Fiscal Year 1976 Budget: Seminars:
      The candor with which Ford constructed and presented his admittedly depressing Budget deprived the press of one of its favorite pastimes, namely, searching out the "rinky-dinks" in the document. In the past, such "rinky-dinks" existed partly in highly unrealistic assumptions concerning Congressional action requested by the incumbent President, or by the donning of rose-colored glasses in making economic assumptions.
    • 1980, Mechanix Illustrated - Volume 76, Issues 620-625, page 112:
      Soon afterward, the federal government, in effect, outlawed the rinky-dinks by adopting minimum-strength standards.
  3. (countable) Deceptive or underhanded rigmarole; trickery.
    • 1940, United States Temporary National Economic Committee, Verbatim Record of the Proceedings of the Temporary National Economic Committee:
      You have this triennial audit or examination and in the cases of the fringe companies like we had yesterday, without any real notice to stockholders or any certificate of an auditing firm, if they are interested in manipulation or rinky-dink of any kind they have got three years practically to get away from it unless somebody picks it up out of the annual report.
    • 1959, United States Congress House Banking and Currency Committee, Housing Act of 1959:
      ... , if they have to do that there is no point in going through this rinky-dink of trading bonds for mortgages, you just go out and sell the bond and take your loss and do what you want to do with the money, ...
    • 1984, United States Congress House Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, How the Financial System Can Best be Shaped to Meet the Needs of the American People:
      Then it goes on to explain all of the rinky-dinks that have occurred in the mergers and gold parachutes.
    • 1973, The Bar Examiner - Volume 42, page 79:
      It became necessary fo the State Board of Law Examiners to overrule the local board on that point. We are proud of him in that he didn't go through the rinky-dink that he said he had an office in his home and would practice at night.
  4. (with 'the') A bad deal; the result of a false promise.
    • 1901, The Chronicle - Volumes 67-68, page 270:
      Two years of his life were spent at this elevating game, during which time he had only eighty-two fights with fond mothers who felt that he had been either neglectful of their particular children or had ruthlessly given them the rinky-dink.
    • 1991, Nathan Miller, F. D. R.: An Intimate History, →ISBN, page 80:
      What's the matter with Roosevelt and his Plan? All the other reformers have them on the pan. Fattened them up with printer's ink. Then handed them the rinky dink.
    • 2009, Fred Allen, Treadmill to Oblivion, →ISBN, page 176:
      He was givin' her the old rinky dink, eh?
  5. (countable) A small-time crook or conman; Someone who operates unethically.
    • 1958, News and Views, page 30:
      In addition to such creeps, there is also found in various organizations an assortment of longhairs, corny antiques, arky back-numbers, moldy mossbacks, rinky-dinks, tintypes, schmoes and schmaltzes of all flavors.
    • 1996, Al Stump, Cobb: A Biography, →ISBN:
      “I'm suing the Pacific Gas and Electric Company,” he explained, “for overcharging me on the service. Those rinky-dinks tacked an extra sixteen dollars on my bill.
    • 2002, Jim Green, Starting Your Own Business, →ISBN, page 88:
      The rinky-dink is the 'no problem' merchant who causes no end of trouble for everyone else in the organisation. He will promise anything to land a sale and in the process lands himself in the drink.
  6. (uncountable) A tinkling, tinny style of music; honky-tonk.
    • 1947, Ralph de Toledano, Frontiers of Jazz, →ISBN, page 119:
      The Oliver band had a new kind of beat, a real jazz beat instead of the ragtime rinky-dink.
    • 1990, Donald Murray Fraser & ‎Bryan Carson, Ignorant Armies, page 124:
      Devon on the run, then. No longer playing rinky-dink in fag clubs, pumping the organ in skidroad missions, humping ivories for small change and beer.
    • 2013, John Kefala Kerr, Thimio's House, →ISBN:
      In his symphony, the form of the notes is the form of the moment, and the form of the moment is strings (lustre), horn (sheen), oboe (edge), harp (light) and glockenspiel (a touch of the rinky-dink).
  7. A nonce word.
    • 1915, The Motor World - Volume 45, page 17:
      He wanted no detachable top of plebian characteristics; he wanted two regular bodies, one for winter and one for summer. And he wanted a special color and a monogram and a whole lot of rinky-dinks that cost him money.
    • 1973, Barbara Raskin, Loose Ends, page 240:
      Coco was definitely a fifties person, not even in the same ballpark as the truly liberated young girls who let their children run barefoot and bareass through the park with their little pink rinky-dinks bobbing up and down.
    • 2010, Sam B. Girgus, Levinas and the Cinema of Redemption: Time, Ethics, and the Feminine, →ISBN:
      Marilyn Monroe who was blonde and beautiful and had a sweet little rinky-dink of a voice and all the cleanliness of all the clean American backyards.