skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Discuss word origins and meanings.

skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue May 31, 2005 6:17 pm

Bob mentioned this phrase from his childhood in the posting skinny (as in 'the skinny'), which I also remember from mine. I discussed it there, but I think that it is deserving of being listed as a separate topic.
. . .my mother, and we are going back nearly 50 years here, used to call an exceptionally thin person "Skinny Malinks", I am guessing the spelling of Malinks, it could be Melincs, Millinks, or something close, but could it be any sort of clue do you think?

Bob in Wales
Bob, Well, I’ll be ding danged! I love it. This is really interesting. I too haven’t heard this expression for years, perhaps since I left NYC many moons ago – except for one thing. In Brooklyn, where I grew up, we said SKINNY BALINK, which after doing some research, I am convinced was just one more mangling of the language by us folks from New York City who might have also managed to mispronounce it as SKINNY MARINK (also see quotes below for MERINK variation). I thought at first it might have been a personal mishearing by me (a ‘mondegreen,’ a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard – ‘Our Father, which art in Heaven. HAROLD be thy name’), but upon checking with my sister, I found that she also heard it as ‘balink,’ at least in our section of Brooklyn.

None of the sources I checked had an explanation for the SKINNY MALINK other than to say that it was from Scottish dialect and first appeared in print in the late 19th century. The quotes below certainly confirm the Scottish source and a New York City connection. It always amazes me every time I discover the source of one my old NYC expressions – what a melting pot of various linguistic influences that place was.
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Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang

SKINNYMALINK or SKINNY MARINK by 1916: a very thin person [from Scottish dialect]
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<1934 “In Britain the quality of writing is not strained. Even when they have nothing to say her novelists generally manage to say it well. Author Marshall is best known for his engaging and witty Father Malachy's Miracle . . . . .. SKINNYMALINK Jamieson, father of "Slug" Jamieson, makes the commencement speech in an outlandish Scots dialect while the ashamed "Slug" betrays him in the hope of ingratiating himself with his scornful fellows.”—in ‘Time Magazine,’ book review of ‘Brothers and Lovers’ by John Hampson, 20 August> [[this is an expansion of Chapman’s quote directly from the source]]
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Oxford English Dictionary

SKINNYMALINK, SKINNYMALINKS, SKINNYMALINKY (Chiefly Scottish), a thin emaciated person or animal.
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Quotes from the OED and other sources:
<1892 “Twa SKINAMALINKS o' the genus horse.”—‘Brechin Advertiser’ (Scotland), 6 September

<1904 “Wee SKINA~MALINK craturs dottin' up the passages in U.F. kirks carryin' the books.”—‘Erchie, My Droll Friend’ by H. Foulis (pseudonym for Scottish author Neil Munro), iii. page 15>

<1916 “SKINNY~MALINK, a very thin person. ‘O, she's a regular SKINNY~MALINK.’ Usage jocular.”—‘Dialect Notes IV’ [[American Dialect Society]], page 289>

<1935 “The chagrin of the old SKINNYMALINKS.”—“Echo’s Bones” by Samuel Beckett [[the Irish playwright]]>

<1956 “There used to be a children's song in Aberdeen relating the adventures of a thin man called ‘SKINAMALINKY Lang Legs’, which is still sung as a skipping song, etc.: SKINAMALINKY lang legs Umbrella feet.”—‘Sunday Times,’ 22 January, page 2/5>

<1959 “Thin people . . . kin and bones, skinny . . . skinny guts, Skinny Liz, SKINNY-MALINK.” —‘The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren” by I. & P. Opie, ix. page 160>

<1979 “A SKINNMALINK of a laddie with holes in his stockings.”—‘Border Bairn’ by Lavina Derwent [[Scottish author]], vi. page 71>

<1994 “If this noble experiment works, if women eventually emerge to play on mixed pro teams and become major leaguers (if a self-confessed ‘SKINNY MARINK’ like Mayer dared have summer dreams, why not a muscular woman?”—‘N.Y. Times,’ book review of “Baseball and Men’s Lives” by Robert Mayer [[born and raised in NYC]], 20 February, page S11>

<1995 “You’re a dumb yenta, she told herself. Besides, what was so special about her, she thought. A raving beauty, she wasn’t. And those glasses, a regular cockeyed Jennie. And a SKINNY MERINK on top of it.”— ‘Never Too Late for Love’ by Adler [[story of a Florida Jewish retirement community – And where 99.9% of the old Jewish folks living in Florida come from? – you guess it NYC. Take it from me. I know. My mother lives there!]]>

<2003 “Mr. O'Neills use of the Erse [[Gaelic, especially Scots Gaelic]] language expressions and his beautiful sentence structures left me in awe of his grasp of the idiom; as a man in his late sixties, I recall some of my older Irish relatives using some of these same expressions/words that I have never seen as written words until this book - my old aunt used to say what I thought was "SKINNY MERINK" to describe a thin person and I find Mr. O'Neills "SKINAMALINK" is an actual expression/word. Other examples were Galoot and galimafree -again words from my callow youth.”—reader book review of ‘At Swim, Two Boys: A Novel’ by Jamie O'Neill>
Ken G – May 31, 2005
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by Shelley » Tue May 31, 2005 6:58 pm

I heard a song once:

Skinnymarink-a-dink-a-dink,
Skinnymarink-a-doo,
I love you.

I think Jimmy Durante recorded it, but that could just be my imagination because I seem to hear the words and tune in his voice. I realize this is not a website to discuss pop songs, but I seem to be in a musical mode today.
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue May 31, 2005 7:21 pm

Shelley, If you’re in the musical mode you might want to sing Jimmy Durante’s famous song INKA DINKA DOO (1933, words and music by Jimmy Durante and Ben Ryan):

What is that haunt -ing re -frain that you hear in the air?
Here and there, ev -'ry where,
It's just a beau -ti -ful strain that keeps taunt -ing my brain con -stant -ly,
It's my mel -o -dy it's my sy -pho -ny.

Chorus:

Ink -A Dink -Doo, A dink -a dee, A dink -a doo.
Oh, what a tune for croon -ing
Ink -A Dink -Doo, A dink a dee, A dink -a doo,
It's got the whole world spoon -ing.
Es -ki -mo bells up in Ice -land, Are ring -ing,
They've made their own Par -a -dise Land, Sing -ing
Ink -A Dink -Doo, A dink -a dee, A dink -a doo,
Simp -ly means Ink -A dink -A dee A dink -a doo.
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Ken G – May 31, 2005
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Post by Shelley » Tue May 31, 2005 8:19 pm

Of course. Now I understand why I hear "skinnymarink . . ." in Jimmy Durante's voice. However, my song IS a song -- I learned only that little bit, though.
Also, regarding personal mishearings: I sang, "My country 'tis a flea/Sweet land of liberty . . ."; and "America! America/God shed his skin on thee . . ."; and finally "Our Father, who art in Heaven/Horton hatches the egg . . ." ("who art" became Horton. If I had learned "WHICH art in Heaven, I wouldn't have had the problem!)
"Harold be thy name" is very, very funny! Right up there with "'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy"!
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue May 31, 2005 8:35 pm

Ken, I see I am going to have to follow your moving target and also repost my comments from the 'skinny' thread here:

This is purely a wild-assed guess, but I wonder if the 'malinks'/'malinky' component in the Scots 'skinnymalinky' may ultimately derive from the Russian adjective 'malenky', meaning 'small' or (depending on the context) 'young'. It occurs to me that Scottish seafarers (a common occupation at one time) would have encountered the word when they met Russian sailors or traded with Russia, which they would have been able to do from circa the time of the expansionist and westward-looking Tsar Peter the Great onwards (i.e. from the first quarter of the 18th century). The meanings of the words are congruent, and they could have sounded similar enough for the 'malinky' part to be adopted as the reduplicative second element, perhaps in connection with a children's game that involved chanting (as so many of them do, or did).
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Jun 01, 2005 4:32 pm

I have spent half an hour during my lunchtime having a look around here and there, well it beats sandwiches. I have a feeling that Skinnymalinks is going to turn out to be a character in a skipping song.
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Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by Ali » Thu Jun 02, 2005 7:04 pm

Skinnamarinky-dinky-dink
Skinnamarinky-do...
is a song.
It may have been sung by Durante but I know it, as do millions of children, as the signature song of Sharon, Lois & Bram.
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Signature: Alison, Guelph

skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by kagriffy » Thu Jun 02, 2005 9:34 pm

I KNEW that song sounded familiar! My daughter loved "The Elephant Show" when she was about 3 or 4, and we had to watch it over and over and over . . . . Great! Now "One elephant went out to play, upon a spider's web one day . . ." will be stuck in my head for the rest of the week! *G*
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K. Allen Griffy
Springfield, Illinois (USA)

skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by Strawberrywrite » Sun Jun 05, 2005 10:39 am

Hi!

I'm new to this site and it's wonderful!

It seems that "skinny malink" was a very popular phrase with mothers...Mine used it too! And, living in New Jersey, I do remember it said the way Ken mentioned, "skinny balink", as well.

- Kim
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by sandx » Sun Jun 05, 2005 11:40 am

Skinnymalink is indeed a Scottish word. It comes from the Noth-east area, around Aberdeen.The dialect is called `Doric`.

Skinnymalink means a thin person and probably comes from skinny mannikie or skinny little man.
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by Strawberrywrite » Sun Jun 05, 2005 2:47 pm

It's really so much fun to know the origin of words.

My mother used to make up words, so I have my own unique lexicon! Many of them are rooted in German, I think, as that was her heritage.

Kim
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by Inspector » Mon Jul 04, 2005 4:18 pm

I knew the rhyme from childhood in Glasgow in the 50's as
"Skinny Malinky long-legs. Big banana feet. Went to the pictures (= cinema). And fell through the seat"
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by classlass » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:34 pm

Hi, Living in Ireland I was so surprised to hear this phrase go world wide as it is still very commonly used here in The Republic of Ireland. Delighted to hear of its origin in Scotland as had always thought it was particular to Ireland.
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by gdwdwrkr » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:27 pm

Skidamarink adink adink
skidamarink adoo
I
love
you
Skidamarink adink adink
skidamarink adoo
I
love
you
I love ya in the morning
and in the afternoon
I love ya in the evening
and underneath the moon
o
Skidamarink adink adink
skidamarink adoo
I
love
you
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skinnymalink(s) / skinny malink(s) / skinny marink(s) / etc.

Post by hsargent » Tue Jan 29, 2008 2:33 pm

This discussion for held in 2005 on the Thread ... Getting the skinny.

The source of that phrase was not found but the discussion was diverted to Skinny Marink.

Would it be possible to get any new input of where Getting the Skinny came from?
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