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Etymology 1[edit]

PIE word

The origin of the noun is uncertain. The following possible derivations have been suggested:[1]

The verb is derived from the noun.[3]


minx (plural minxes)

  1. A flirtatious, impudent, or pert young woman.
    • 1592, Thomas Nash[e], Pierce Penilesse His Supplication to the Deuill. [], London: [] [John Charlewood for] Richard Ihones, [], →OCLC; republished as J[ohn] Payne Collier, editor, Pierce Penniless’s Supplication to the Devil. [], London: [] [Frederic Shoberl, Jun.] for the Shakespeare Society, 1842, →OCLC, page 21:
      In an other corner, Mistris Minx, a marchants wife, that will eate no cherries, forsooth, but when they are at twentie shillings a pound, that lookes as simperingly as if she were besmeard, and iets it as gingerly as if she were dancing the canaries, []
    • 1695, [William] Congreve, Love for Love: A Comedy. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, Act II, scene iii, page 20:
      How Huſſie! was there ever ſuch a provoking Minx?
    • 1792, Joseph Richardson, The Fugitive: A Comedy. [], London: [] [John] Debrett, [], →OCLC, act IV, scene ii, page 56:
      Miſs Herbert. So good, Mr. gallant, gay Lothario of ſixty-five, a good morning to you. [Exit. Miſs Herbert. / Old Manly. A ſaucy minx.
    • 1838 March – 1839 October, Charles Dickens, “Illustrative of the Convivial Sentiment, that the Best of Friends Must Sometimes Part”, in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1839, →OCLC, pages 414–415:
      Miss Squeers made no more direct reply than surveying her former friend from top to toe, and elevating her nose in the air with ineffable disdain. But some indistinct allusions to a ‘puss,’ and a ‘minx,’ and a ‘contemptible creature,’ escaped her; and this, together with a severe biting of the lips, great difficulty in swallowing, and very frequent comings and goings of breath, seemed to imply that feelings were swelling in Miss Squeers’s bosom too great for utterance.
    • 1852 July, Herman Melville, “Book XII. Isabel, Mrs. Glendenning, the Portrait, and Lucy.”, in Pierre: Or, The Ambiguities, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], →OCLC, section IV, page 272:
      "Thy own tongue blister the roof of thy mouth!" cried Mrs. Glendinning, in a half-stifled, whispering scream. "'Tis not for thee, hired one, to rail at my son, though he were Lucifer, simmering in Hell! Mend thy manners, minx!"
    • 1859–1861, [Thomas Hughes], “The Long Vacation Letter-bag”, in Tom Brown at Oxford: [], part 2nd, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, published 1861, →OCLC, page 105:
      Hopkins says she is a dressed-up little minx who runs after all the young men in the parish; but really, from what I see and hear from other persons, I think she is a good girl enough.
    • 1895, Marie Fraser, “Tapos and Other ‘Fafines’”, in In Stevenson’s Samoa, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], →OCLC, page 111:
      Others were pert little minxes, and were amusingly condescending to their friends and relatives; but when it came to the feast all the innocent little airs and graces were left aside, and the saucy tapo enjoyed her pig and yams as naturally as the hungriest boy there.
    • 1936 June 30, Margaret Mitchell, chapter XVIII, in Gone with the Wind, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, →OCLC; republished New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, 1944, →OCLC, part IV, page 317:
      A widow with a child was at a disadvantage with these pretty little minxes, she thought. But in these exciting days her widowhood and her motherhood weighed less heavily upon her than ever before.
    • 1988, Barbara Delinsky, Commitments, New York, N.Y., Boston, Mass.: Grand Central Publishing, published October 2012, →ISBN, page 69:
      Single, and generally on the make, she was alternatively an angel, a devil and a minx.
    • 1996, Helen Fielding, “Wednesday, 4 January”, in Bridget Jones’s Diary, London: Penguin Books, published 1999 (2010 printing), →ISBN:
      As women glide from their twenties to thirties, Shazzer argues, the balance of power subtly shifts. Even the most outrageous minxes lose their nerve, wrestling with the first twinges of existential angst: fears of dying alone and being found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian.
    • 1999, Meera Syal, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee, Black Swan edition, London: Transworld Publishers, published 2015, →ISBN, page 242:
      We're quite a powerful group, us wrinkly teenagers, us pre-menopausal minxes.
    • 2009, Richard Wigmore, “Operas and Dramatic Music”, in The Faber Pocket Guide to Haydn, London: Faber and Faber, →ISBN, page 307:
      Both girls [in Joseph Haydn's Le pescatrici] reveal themselves as minxes.
  2. (derogatory, dated) A promiscuous woman; also, a mistress (the other woman in an extramarital relationship) or a prostitute.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:mistress, Thesaurus:promiscuous woman, Thesaurus:prostitute
    • 1576, George Whetstone, “The Arbour of Vertue, []”, in The Rocke of Regard, [], London: [] [H. Middleton] for Robert Waley, →OCLC; republished in J[ohn] P[ayne] Collier, editor, The Rocke of Regard, [] (Illustrations of Early English Poetry; vol. 2, no. 2), London: Privately printed, [1867?], →OCLC, pages 164–165:
      Well, yet at length the houre came that flattered him with grace, / Who all too haſtie hide him ſelfe to his appointed place. / Arrived there, a pretie minx (directed wel before) / Unto a lodging brought this lord, and locked faſt the dore. / When he was ſafe, awaye ſhe went, for joy Alberto hopt, / But ſee, a chaunge! too late he ſpyde he was in priſon popt. / The windowes made of yron barres, the walles of ſtone and clay, / A bed he found, but farre unfit he thought for Venus play.
    • c. 1603–1604 (date written), William Shakespeare, The Tragœdy of Othello, the Moore of Venice. [] (First Quarto), London: [] N[icholas] O[kes] for Thomas Walkley, [], published 1622, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene i], page 65:
      [W]hat did you meane by that ſame handkercher, you gaue mee euen now? [] this is ſome minxes token, and I muſt take out the worke; there, giue it the hobby horſe, whereſoeuer you had it, I'le take out no worke on't.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Causes of Iealousie, Who are Most Apt. []”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 3, section 3, member 1, subsection 2, page 469:
      If thou be abſent long, thy wife then thinkes, / Th'art drunke, at eaſe, or with ſome pretty minkes, / 'Tis well with thee, or elſe beloued of ſome, / Whil'ſt ſhee poore ſoule doth fare full ill at home.
    • 1677, John Dryden, The Kind Keeper; or, Mr. Limberham: A Comedy: [], London: [] R. Bentley, and M. Magnes, [], published 1680, →OCLC, Act I, scene i, page 4:
      They are a couple of alluring wanton Minxes.
    • 1760, J. Copywell [pseudonym; William Woty], “Money. A Fragment of an Intended Parody.”, in The Shrubs of Parnassus. Consisting of a Variety of Poetical Essays, Moral and Comic, London: [] J[ohn] Newbery, [], →OCLC, page 142:
      He to his ardent love ſhall win the fair, / From beauty's queen, to her who ſcrubs the ſtair, / From the Kept-miſtreſs, or the Counteſs vain, / Down to the tawdry Minx in Drury Lane.
    • 1864, England’s Bards, 1864; or, The Three Poems which were Awarded the One Hundred Guineas Offered as Prizes in the Advertisement “Ho! For a Shakespeare!” which Appeared about the Time of Shakespeare’s Tercentenary Anniversary, London: Day and Son, [], →OCLC, section I (Pallas Athené and Venus at Breakfast with Juno, in One of Her Apartments), page 12:
      For my part, if I understand these sphinxes, / These living riddles called Olympian Gods, / I think they are in love with mortal minxes; / (It would not be the only time by odds;) []
    • 1939 May 4, James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, London: Faber and Faber Limited, →OCLC; republished London: Faber & Faber Limited, 1960, →OCLC, part III, page 496:
      There wasn't an Archimandrite of Dane's Island and the townlands nor a minx from the Isle of Woman [] would come next or nigh him, []
    • 2009, Judith Holder, “January”, in The Secret Diary of a Grumpy Old Woman: AKA A Year in Big Knickers, London: Hachette UK, published 2011, →ISBN:
      Tragically forgot to take drying washing down off rack over Aga and a pair of my very large knickers was perilously close to brushing the top of his hair as he came in. [] I quickly swapped them with a pair of ELDEST's teeny-weeny ones, so he thinks he might be marrying into a family of sex minxes who stay that way well into middle age.
  3. (obsolete) A pet dog.
Derived terms[edit]
See also[edit]


minx (third-person singular simple present minxes, present participle minxing, simple past and past participle minxed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) Used transitively when followed by it: to behave like a minx, that is, in a flirtatious and impudent manner.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:harlotize
    • 1861, [Dr. Milligan], “Flight the Fifth”, in Baal: Or, Sketches of Social Evils. A Poem, in Ten Flights, London: William Freeman, [], →OCLC, page 102:
      [He] knows the dress of every girl he meets— / In fact could cut you out the very plan, / Each article could name, and tell you every shade, / Whether adorning minxing miss or ancient maid!
    • 2001 July, Alan Bissett, Damage Land: New Scottish Gothic Fiction, Edinburgh: Polygon, →ISBN, page 60:
      Alison might have, if she hadn't minxed herself out of a job.
    • 2009, Megan Abbott, Bury Me Deep, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, →ISBN, page 121:
      She grabbed desperately at the pistol, singeing hot, and she and Ginny fell to the floor, Marion on top and looking down at twisty little Ginny, that minxing blond thrush, now beneath her, churning under her and spitting and hacking and cursing Marion and cursing her so.
    • 2010, Eleanor Moran, Mr Almost Right[1], London: Penguin Books, →ISBN:
      It's just a late date. It's like I'm Carrie Bradshaw, minxing it around Manhattan.
    • 2013, Norm Sibum, “Book III—In Continuation, a Proper Narrative”, in Dan Wells, editor, The Traymore Rooms: A Novel in Five Parts: Quebec, America and Rome, Windsor, Ont.: Biblioasis, →ISBN, part 2 (Echo’s Gone), page 261:
      Moonface minxed and flashed her red nails like a dancer, chameleon that she was.
    • 2014, Kelly Brook, Close Up: The Autobiography, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, →ISBN:
      Sadly, I was the one minxing around, so I was inevitably going to meet a horrible death.
  2. (transitive) To make (someone) like a minx; (intransitive) to become like a minx.
    • 2012, Hide & Seek Melbourne 2, Prahran, Vic.: Explore Australia Publishing, →ISBN:
      Whether you're sipping fine bubbly from a crystal flute while having your nails minxed, or soaking in a heavenly milk bath, a visit to Miss Fox is your ticket to forget your worries and simply indulge.

Etymology 2[edit]

A variant of mink.[4]


minx (plural minxes)

  1. obsolete spelling of mink (any of various semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammals in the Mustelinae subfamily).. [18th–19th c.]
    Synonym: minx otter
    • 1771, Thomas Pennant, quoting John Bartram, “Otter”, in Synopsis of Quadrupeds, Chester, Cheshire: [] J. Monk, →OCLC, page 240:
      The Minx [] frequents the water like the Otter, and very much reſembles it in ſhape and color, but is leſs; will abide longer under the water than the muſk quaſh, muſk rat, or little beaver: []
    • 1831, John James Audubon, “The Great Carolina Wren. Troglodytes ludovicianus, Ch. Bonaparte. []”, in Ornithological Biography, or An Account of the Habits of the Birds of the United States of America; [], Edinburgh: Adam Black, [], →OCLC, page 401:
      Many of these birds are destroyed by Weasels and Minxes.
    • 1847, J. H. Mather, L. P. Brockett, “Zoology. [Class I. Mammalia.]”, in Geography of the State of New York. [], Hartford, Conn.: J. H. Mather & Co. [et al.], →OCLC, page 39:
      2d. Carnivora, or flesh eaters. Of these we have [] the New York ermine, or ermine weasel; the mink, or minx otter; the common otter; []
    • [1876], Charles Henry Eden, chapter VII, in The Home of the Wolverene and Beaver; or, Fur-hunting in the Wilds of Canada, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; New York, N.Y.: Pott, Young & Co., →OCLC, page 153:
      We next come to the mink or minx otter (Putorius Vison) which is the only animal of the genus mustela inhabiting the northern parts of America that can be said to live in the water, and the name of "fisher" could with much justice be transferred from its present bearer to the mink.
    • 1893 March, John H. Keatley, “Under the Arctic Circle”, in B[enjamin] O[range] Flower, editor, The Arena, volume VII, number XL, Boston, Mass.: Arena Publishing Co., →OCLC, page 491:
      There is, however, scarcely any distinction in the other portions of the dress of the sexes [of southeastern Alaskan natives], except that the skin coats or tunics of the women and the facings of the bonnet or hood (worn by both sexes) are more elaborately decorated with minx, otter, or seal fur about the throat, and down the front, than those of the men.


  1. ^ minx, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; minx, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ minx”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
  3. ^ † minx, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020.
  4. ^ mink, ''n.1 and adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020.

Further reading[edit]