early 15c., "skin or fur of the (European) mink," from a Scandinavian source (compare Swedish menk "a stinking animal in Finland"). Applied in English to the animal itself from 1620s, and extended to the related (but larger) animal of North America by Capt. John Smith (1624). Related: Minkery "an establishment where minks are bred and trained for ratting" (by 1862, American English).
updated on February 01, 2019