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Jinx

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Linda Mc
855465.  Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:06 am Reply with quote

We are all very superstitious people but jinx actually derives from the Latin word iynx which is the wryneck bird(jynx torquilla) which sounds like a bird that should be in a horror movie. It can turn it's head a complete 180 degrees so it faces the opposite direction and hisses like a snake... freaky! http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=099001

 
Sylvia
855483.  Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:26 am Reply with quote

I saw a wryneck at a farm by Stockers Lake, near Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, many years ago.

By the way, if it can turn its head through 180, it can also turn it through 360. It can start by facing behind, turn its head to face the front, and continue turning its head the other way until it faces behind again. That's a complete turn of 360. I think the praying mantis and some species of owl can also do this.

 
RLDavies
855536.  Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:56 pm Reply with quote

The wryneck / jinx was thought to be a very magical creature and was used in Graeco-Roman magic spells. Hence the extension of the bird's name to mean a spell or curse.

I have a few books that discuss Graeco-Roman magic, so I'll have a nosey and see if I can dig up an actual spell that uses a jinx.

 
mckeonj
855544.  Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:20 pm Reply with quote

It might be related to lowland Scots "Jings!"

 
suze
855582.  Fri Oct 14, 2011 5:29 pm Reply with quote

Actually, the etymology of jinx is a good opportunity to raise your "Nobody Knows" flag. It might be from that Latin word iynx, or from the Scots word jink (originally a dancing term).

Or it might come from an old popular song called Captin Jinks of the Horse Marines. Captin Jinks was an incompetent soldier, and it's one of those songs with a vast number of verses detailing various misfortunes which befell him. It was written in 1868 by one William H Lingard, an Englishman who moved to New York and gained a reputation as a drag artiste.

Or it just might be connected to the Basque word Jinko (= God). Some claim that the expression "By Jingo" is indeed from the Basque, although no one has ever satisfactorily explained quite how that Basque word could have found its way into English slang. (There are otherwise precisely two Basque words which have been borrowed into English. Anchovy and bizarre, since you ask.)

 

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