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Habitational surname from a place near Dunbar, from an unexplained first element + Old English tūn (enclosure). This surname is well established in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Proper noun[edit]

Pinkerton (plural Pinkertons)

  1. A habitational surname, from Old English​.


  • According to the 2010 United States Census, Pinkerton is the 4193rd most common surname in the United States, belonging to 8446 individuals. Pinkerton is most common among White (90.99%) individuals.


Pinkerton (plural Pinkertons)

  1. (dated, countable) An operative employed by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency founded by Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884).
    • 1912, Alexander Berkman, chapter 6, in Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist:
      My heart wells up in admiration of the man, as I think of his participation in the memorable struggle of Homestead. He fought the Pinkertons, the myrmidons of Capital.
    • 1950, "Kiss the Donkey," Time, 4 Sep.,
      He joined the pickets in the bloody Homestead steel strike of 1892, and actually went so far as to jostle a Pinkerton.

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