Printable Version
Pronunciation: singk Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A basin with a spigot and drain. 2. A cesspool, sump or other drainage pit and/or connecting drainage ditches. 3. A depression in land surface, sinkhole. 4. A device that collects or dissipates energy, such as a heat sink. 5. A repository of depravity or corruption.

Notes: This noun comes from the verb sink, which means "to drop below the surface". It comes with another noun, sinkful "the quantity that fills a sink". All other derivations come from the verb. It does occur in several compounds, like sinkhole and sinkstone "washbasin made of stone".

In Play: wash basinThe most common use of this word usually refers to the basin and all its plumbing: "Leighton tried to repair the sink but only got himself drenched for nothing." The fifth sense above is a rarity that has been around since the 16th century: "Most administrations refer to the previous administration as a sink of ignorance and depravity."

Word History: In Middle English the verbal use of today's Good Word was sench, which turned into sink, like drench/drink, stench/stink, and milch/milk. We find plenty of evidence of it across all Germanic languages, Dutch zinken, German sinken, Danish and Norwegian synke, and Swedish sjunka. All these point back to Proto-Indo-European sengw- "to fall, sink". However, no trace of this PIE word is found outside Germanic. We do find evidence that the N is fickle in English sag. (Now let's all thank newcomer Paula Kelley Ward for suggesting today's—her second—Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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