The stink/The stank

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jan 20 23:28:15 UTC 2005

I'd be inclined to agree, except that for many speakers (presumably Hank Hill is one), the verbal  " *It stanks " would be impossible.


Wilson Gray <wilson.gray at RCN.COM> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Wilson Gray
Subject: The stink/The stank

About a year ago, I heard the character, Hank Hill, of the animated
cartoon, "King of The Hill," which is set in Texas, say, "You got the
stank on you and everybody can smell it." It's been about sixty years
since I've anyone use this turn of phrase, which means, "everybody can
tell that you're the responsible party, etc."

Then, on Comedy Central a while ago, on a show called "Country
Comedians" or some such, one person says to another, "Go 'hayid. Put
yo' stank(sic) on it," which, from context, meant, "Put your mark (of
ownership, etc.) on it."

In both cases, the speakers were white, FWIW.

So, I was moved to see what Google had to say. It showed that both
spellings, "stink" and "stank," are in use. But, whatever the spelling,
both of the meanings above are rare. In some cases, "stink/stank" is
used to replace "funk" in the sense of "foul, disgusting odor." In
other cases, it's used to mean "the word, the inside dope, the skinny,"
leading to puns like, "The stink on anal glands." In still other cases,
"put the stink/stank on" is used to mean "jinx, foul up," etc. A closer
reading of the data may yield other meanings.

IMO, there's only one word, "stink," with the spelling following
whichever pronunciation is hip or boss in a given area.

-Wilson Gray

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