Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Jan 1 13:42:27 UTC 2002

>... now I wonder whether there was a pre-existing word "binky". ....

A good question. I don't find this in any of my books. One might check the
English Dialect Dictionary and maybe the big Scottish National Dictionary
(I don't have these myself ... maybe next time I drop by the big library ...).

In Scots there's apparently "bink" = "bench"/"shelf"/"cupboard"/etc. ...
not very promising. There's also "whistle-binkie", which I see defined as a
peripheral attendee at a penny wedding [i.e., a wedding with an admission
charge ... which he has not paid], an idle spectator ... here presumably
"binkie" has/had some meaning, but I don't know for sure what (but see below).

My casual conjecture is that "binky" originally meant something small,
either "baby" or "little finger". I see Binky/Binkie as a nickname on the
Web and as a name for small pets: Binky the Bunny or Binky the Kitty
perhaps (not Binky the Killer Whale). I wonder whether this could have been
a version of "pinkie", Scots for small things including the little finger,
and similar to older English words along the line of "pinkeny" used as pet
names or so. [A wild speculation which may be instantly disprovable by an
expert: could "pink" and its relatives such as this one come (through
Dutch) from Spanish "pequeño"?] "Binky" might be a baby-talk version. Also
note that one's pinkie can serve as a binky in an emergency.

I note the Scots expression "whustle one's thoum" = "whistle [on] one's
thumb" = "twiddle one's thumbs" = "be idle" or so ... very similar to the
activities of the whistle-binkie at the penny wedding ... maybe he's
whistling on his pinkie?

-- Doug Wilson

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