Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Alternative forms[edit]

crinkum crankum, crincum-crancum, crincum crancum


From crinkle and crankle, or a Low Latin crincum. See 1750 reference and explanation in 1810 citation.


crinkum-crankum (plural crinkum-crankums)

  1. Something elaborately twisted or tricky.
    • 1787, Colman, George, Prose on several occasions, T. Cadel, page 95:
      (glossary entry) Crincum-crancum,—Lines of irregularity and involution.
    • 1802 February, Thrifty, Peter, “A Farmer's Description of the Illuminations in London”, in Sporting Magazine, volume 19, page 286:
      I had no notion of being lost in so much light; but I had wander'd out of the main streets, and was got to the crinkum-crankum parts of London, where there are turnings and windings on every side.
    • 1810 November, review of Sir John Sinclair, Observations on the Report of the Bullion Committee (1810, London), The Quarterly Review, volume IV, number viii, page 535:
      ‘... yet if she will come into the court riding backward upon a black ram, with his tail in her hand, and say the words following, the steward is bound, by the custom, to re-admit her to her free-bench: —
          Here I am
          Riding upon a black ram,
          Like a ***** as I am;
          Who, for my Crinkum Crankum,
          Have lost my Binkum Bankum;
          *        *        *        *        *        *
          *        *        *        *        *        *
          Therefore, I pray you, Mr. Steward, let me have my land again.’
      [...] That Crinkum Crankum is not less descriptive of tortuosity of opinion as it is of irregularity of conduct.
    • 1842 September, review of J. H. Markland, Remarks on English Churches, and on the Expediency of rendering Sepulchral Monuments [Memorials] subservient to Pious and Christian Uses (Second Edition, 1842, Oxford), The Quarterly Review, volume LXX, number cxl, page 437:
      And the artists vainly endeavoured to preserve them by means of vases, pyramids, busts, scrolls, coats-of-arms, projecting cornices, broken pediments, and by what has not inappropriately been called the ‘crinkum-crankum’ style of Elizabeth and James; in which angles and curves are, as before, studiously intermixed, but intermixed without due proportion; and entangle the eye in a labyrinth of fractured lines, without unity, or harmony, or grace.
    • “... I tell you men, them's Crinkum-crankum whales.” ¶ “And what is them?” said a sailor. ¶ “Why, them is whales that can't be cotched.”
    • 1893, Zincke, Foster Barham, Wherstead: Some Materials for Its History, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Company, page 14:
      Forty years ago one who had known it well described it to me as a crincum-crancum kind of house, full of ins and outs.
    • 1995, O'Rourke, P. J., Republican Party Reptile[2]:
      Before the Congressional observer team went home, Lugar read a thin-soup statement, crinkum-crankum so packed with "Pash Commit of Flips to Dem" that a Hong Kong TV correspondent was moved to ask, "For those of us who are not native English speakers, could you please tell us what you are saying?"


  • Giles Jacob, A New Law Dictionary Containing the Interpretation and Definition of Words and Terms Used in the Law, ..., 1750, Free-Bench
  • Jon Bee [John Badcock], Slang: a dictionary of the turf, the ring, the chase, the pit, of bon-ton, ..., London, 1823 [3]
  • Gordon Williams, A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature, Volume 1, Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994 [4]
  • crinkum-crankum” in the Collins English Dictionary