Etymology
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pink (v.)

c. 1200, pungde "to pierce, puncture, stab with a pointed weapon," later (early 14c.) "make holes in; spur a horse," of uncertain origin; perhaps from a nasalized form of the Romanic stem that also yielded French piquer "to prick, pierce," Spanish picar (see pike (n.1)). Or perhaps from Old English pyngan and directly from its source, Latin pungere "to prick, pierce" (from suffixed form of PIE root *peuk- "to prick"). Related: Pinked; pinking.

Later "to decorate (a garment, leather) by making small holes in a regular pattern at the edge or elsewhere" (c. 1500). Surviving mainly in pinking shears (by 1934).

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pink (n., adj.)

1570s, common name of Dianthus, a garden plant of various colors; a word of unknown origin. It is perhaps from pink (v.) via the notion of "perforated" (scalloped) petals. Or perhaps it is from Dutch pink "small, narrow" (see pinkie), itself obscure, via the term pinck oogen "half-closed eyes," literally "small eyes," which was borrowed into English (1570s) and may have been used as a name for Dianthus, which sometimes has small dots resembling eyes.

The noun meaning "pale red color, red color of low chroma but high luminosity" is recorded by 1733 (pink-coloured is recorded from 1680s), from one of the common colors of the flowers.  The adjective pink is attested by 1720. As an earlier name for such a color English had incarnation "flesh-color" (mid-14c.), and as an adjective incarnate (1530s), from Latin words for "flesh" (see incarnation) but these also had other associations and tended to drift in sense from "flesh-color, blush-color" toward "crimson, blood color."

The flower meaning led (by 1590s) to a figurative use for "the flower" or highest type or example of excellence of anything (as in Mercutio's "Nay, I am the very pinck of curtesie," Rom. & Jul. II.iv.61). Compare flour (n.). The political noun sense "person perceived as left of center but not entirely radical (i.e. red)" is attested by 1927, but the image dates to at least 1837. Pink slip "discharge notice" is attested by 1915; pink slips had various connotations in employment in the first decade of the 20th century, including a paper signed by a worker to testify he would leave the labor union or else be fired. To see pink elephants "hallucinate from alcoholism" is from 1913 in Jack London's "John Barleycorn."

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tickle (v.)

c. 1300 (implied in tickling) "to touch lightly so as to cause a peculiar and uneasy or thrilling sensation in the nerves," of uncertain origin, possibly a frequentative form of tick (v.) in its older sense of "to touch." Some suggest a metathesis of Middle English kittle, which is from a shared Germanic word for "to tickle," but tickle is attested earlier. The Old English form was tinclian.

Meaning "to excite agreeably" (late 14c.) is a translation of Latin titillare. Meaning "to poke or touch so as to excite laughter" is from early 15c.; figurative sense of "to excite, amuse" is attested from 1680s. The noun is recorded from 1801. To tickle (one's) fancy is from 1640s. Related: Tickler.

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pink-eye (n.)

contagious eye infection, 1882, American English, from pink (adj.) + eye (n.). Earlier it meant "a small eye" (1570s).

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pink-collar (adj.)

in reference to jobs generally held by women, 1977, from pink (adj.), considered a characteristically feminine color, + collar (n.). Compare blue-collar, white-collar.

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tickled (adj.)

"pleased, happy," 1580s, past-participle adjective from tickle (v.). To be tickled pink is from 1909.

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pinky (adj.)

"pinkish, somewhat pink," 1790, from pink (n.) + -y (2).

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pinkish (adj.)

"somewhat pink," 1784, from pink (n.) + -ish.

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titillation (n.)

early 15c., "pleasing excitement," from Latin titillationem (nominative titillatio) "a tickling," noun of action from past-participle stem of titillare "to tickle," a word imitative of giggling.

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pinkie (n.)

"the little finger," 1808, in Scottish, from Dutch pinkje, diminutive of pink "little finger," a word of uncertain origin.

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