inkling

noun
in·​kling | \ ˈiŋ-kliŋ How to pronounce inkling (audio) \

Definition of inkling

1 : a slight indication or suggestion : hint, clue there was no path—no inkling even of a trackNew Yorker
2 : a slight knowledge or vague notion had not the faintest inkling of what it was all about— H. W. Carter

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Originating in English in the early 16th century, inkling derives from Middle English yngkiling, meaning "whisper or mention," and perhaps further from the verb inclen, meaning "to hint at." It also shares a distant relationship with the Old English noun inca, meaning "suspicion." An early sense of the word meant "a faint perceptible sound or undertone" or "rumor," but now people usually use the word to refer to a tiny bit of knowledge or information that a person receives about something. One related word you might not have heard of is the verb inkle, a back-formation of inkling that occurs in some British English dialects and means "to have an idea or notion of."

Examples of inkling in a Sentence

did not give the slightest inkling that he was planning to quit

Recent Examples on the Web

The first inkling Robert Porcher had that Barry Sanders was considering retirement came immediately after the Detroit Lions’ season-ending loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 1998. Freep.com, "20 years ago, Barry Sanders retired and 'all hell broke loose'," 21 July 2019 There was a clear inkling in the lead-up to the draft that Bol could be in for a precipitous fall, but watching him slip all the way into the middle of the second round was still a bit of a shocker. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "10 NBA Draft Thoughts: Bol Bol's Big Fall, Value Picks, and What to Expect in the Future," 21 June 2019 But there was no inkling Nelson might hurt someone, Giles said. James Queally, latimes.com, "L.A. County sheriff’s deputy who was shot in random attack has died," 12 June 2019 But inklings of ability and leadership don't win titles. SI.com, "Granit Xhaka: Naming the Swiss as Captain Sets a Dangerous Precedent for Next Season," 18 July 2019 Researchers had an inkling that some crannogs had Stone Age beginning in the 1980s, when excavations at a crannog at Scotland’s North Uist island revealed Neolithic artifacts. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Scotland’s Tiny Artificial Islands Date to the Stone Age," 14 June 2019 So far, there is little inkling of anything in the works nearly ambitious enough: Hence the apparent resort to lending targets imposed from above. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Chinese Banks: We’ll Never Grow Up, Not Us," 13 Nov. 2018 Before this, there have only been a few inklings of possible exomoons in the past. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Astronomers may have discovered the first moon ever found outside our Solar System," 3 Oct. 2018 Under President Obama, there was some inkling that Iran might become the new stanchion of stability. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "On Saudi Arabia, Trump Has a Clue," 23 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inkling.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of inkling

1513, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for inkling

Middle English yngkiling whisper, mention, probably from inclen to hint at; akin to Old English inca suspicion

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inkling

Listen to Our Podcast about inkling

Dictionary Entries near inkling

ink knife

inkle

inkless

inkling

inkman

ink mushroom

ink pad

Statistics for inkling

Last Updated

7 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inkling

The first known use of inkling was in 1513

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inkling

inkling

noun

English Language Learners Definition of inkling

: a slight, uncertain idea about something : a slight amount of knowledge about something

inkling

noun
in·​kling | \ ˈiŋ-kliŋ How to pronounce inkling (audio) \

Kids Definition of inkling

: a vague notion : hint She hadn't an inkling there was a problem.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on inkling

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inkling

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inkling

Spanish Central: Translation of inkling

Nglish: Translation of inkling for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inkling for Arabic Speakers

Comments on inkling

What made you want to look up inkling? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

not constant or steady

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!