- The definition of an inkling is a suspicion or a hint.
When you kind of suspect that someone is planning a surprise party for you but you are not quite sure, this is an example of an inkling.
inkling definition by Webster's New World
- an indirect suggestion; slight indication; hint
- a vague idea or notion; suspicion
Origin: Middle English ingkiling ; from inclen, to give an inkling of
inkling definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- A slight hint or indication.
- A slight understanding or vague idea or notion.
Origin: Probably alteration of Middle English (a) ningkiling, (a) hint, suggestion, possibly alteration of nikking, from nikken, to mark a text for correction, from nik, notch, tally, perhaps from variant of Old French niche, niche; see niche.Word History: Inkling has nothing to do with ink, but it may have something to do with niches. Our story begins with the Old French (and Modern French) word niche, meaning “niche.” It is possible that in Old French a variant form existed that was borrowed into Middle English as nik, meaning “a notch, tally.” This word is probably related to the Middle English word nikking, meaning “a hint, slight indication,” or possibly “a whisper, mention.” Nikking appears only once, in a Middle English text composed around 1400. In another copy of the same text the word ningkiling appears, which may be a variant of nikking. This is essentially our word inkling already, the only major change being an instance of what is called false splitting, whereby people understood a ningkiling as an ingkiling. They did the same thing with a napron, getting an apron.