17

Is "boinking" an onomatopoeic and/or a blend word?

I would have said so, I believe the word boink refers to the sound of the mattress springs squeaking under the weight of a couple making love. A slang term which derives from a "blending" of boing and bonk. But I have found precious little information to confirm it. Do native speakers use the word "boink" to also imitate the sound of mattress springs or only as a jocular (is it vulgar?) substitution for having sex?

Oxford Dictionaries says:

  • boing
    Origin 1950s: imitative.

  • bonk
    Origin 1930s: imitative.
    British; have sexual intercourse (also North American boink)

  • boink
    ?

There is no entry. OD directs the visitor back to bonk

Luckily, Merriam-Webster believes boink deserves more attention.

  • boink
    Origin: boink, boing, interjections imitative of a reverberating sound
    First Known Use: 1987

Etymology Online has

  • boink
    "have sex with; the sex act," slang by c.2000, perhaps an alteration of bonk in its popular sexual sense. Related: Boinked; boinking.

  • bonk
    "to hit," 1931, probably of imitative origin; 1975 in sense of "have sexual intercourse with." Related: Bonked; bonking.

I read somewhere that the actor Bruce Willis first coined the expression boink in the TV series Moonlighting. Is it true? I'm positive I was "boinking" and "boinked" in the early 80s, but not in the 70s because I was only a child.

  • 3
    I suspect the repetitious, long-common boing-boing-boing of bouncing (e.g. on a pogo stick) should be considered in how boink came to be understood as sex. – anongoodnurse Sep 21 '14 at 7:46
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    As for Bruce Willis: Episode 4 "The Next Murder You Hear" March 19, 1985 The Hokey Pokey; variation (Mr. Stickpin) performed by Bruce Willis Respect by Aretha Franklin; performed by Bruce Willis Powerhouse B by Raymond Scott; variation (Boink, Boink, Boink) performed by Bruce Willis Episode 5 "Next Stop Murder" March 26, 1985:home.comcast.net/~christinemgraves/mlmusic.html – user66974 Sep 21 '14 at 8:12
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    youtube.com/watch?v=2nU3AIvfK04 they're so good aren't they? never been anyone like 'em. i'd guess, surely, that scene just "popularised" it - it was not a shakespearean-esque creation of the term ex-nihilo – Fattie Sep 21 '14 at 8:59
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    Partridge (NPDOSUE 2008) has "boink noun an in-person meeting of participants in an Internet discussion group US, 1995 || boink verb to have sex with someone US, 1897" - but no attribution so ... that could be a typo and it's 1978/1987/1997/1979 etc. – Frank Sep 21 '14 at 10:57
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    I'm no biologist, but I'm fairly sure people have been boinking since the dawn of the species. ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 29 '15 at 6:30
17

The OED dates boink as a verb back to 1984, citing Stephen King's Thinner, where it appears to be used as onomatopoeia, similar to bonk:

He half-expected them to begin bopping and boinking each other.

For this sense, the OED gives the definition "to strike, to knock", which is fairly similar to how bonk is used. As for the sexual meaning, their earliest cite is from two years later, a 1986 posting to the newsgroup net.singles by Andrew Tannenbaum:

When you and your honey boink away, you're doing what the doggies do.

Can boink be antedated? Perhaps. But take a look at the following chart from Google Books Ngrams Viewer:

boink and boinking chart

So at the very least, boink wasn't widespread until after the mid-80s.

Searching Google Books, I was able to find some examples of boink from before 1986, but none with a sexual meaning. I chose to search for boinking first to reduce false positives because Google Books (unlike their Ngram Viewer) is case-insensitive and Boink is a name. I did also search for boink, but it was less useful. Searches for boinked and boinks had fewer false positives than boink did, but neither turned up any pre-1986 citations with a sexual meaning.

Most of what I found was like the following snippet from The Complaint Booth (Jack Kurtz, 1978):

Fairies pass through audience boinking people with their wands. Elves up and down aisles "beeping."

Here it seems similar to bonk. And we can find scattered earlier uses with the same meaning, as in the following 1966 use with a similar meaning in Science & Technology:

This causes a mechanical wave to travel around the circumference of the sleeve―in the same way it would if you kept "boinking" the top of a metal can with your fingers.

Using the same tools, Frank found an even earlier example, apparently quoting something Senator John Thye said in a 1947 congressional committee meeting:

Mr. Sears, how would you propose to perfect the general farm program, disregarding soil conservation which is just one small phase of the enter program, but boink back to parity price, the ever-normal granary, and those programs?

There are more like this, but it didn't seem to be especially common and none of the pre-1986 examples I found had a sexual meaning. Of course, that doesn't mean people didn't use it that way, only that I can't find it in print using online tools. It seems likely that the word was used in speech before it appeared in print, but I can only speculate as to how much earlier.

Given the dates, including the citation Frank found, it seems reasonable to guess that boink goes back about as far as bonk. As for the sexual use, it seems safe to say it became commonplace after the mid-80s.

  • 1948 - boink as bounce? books.google.com/… – Frank Sep 21 '14 at 9:29
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    If that's the same Andrew Tanenbaum that wrote MINX, I'm starting to see a pattern here. – Pharap Sep 21 '14 at 11:54
  • Do you think boink is a blending of boing and bonk*, or simply a spelling variation of bonk? Your earlier references seem to indicate that "boink" original meant to either tap people (gently) on their heads or spring energetically forward/backward? – Mari-Lou A Sep 21 '14 at 13:22
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    @Mari-LouA Dictionaries relate it to bonk and that makes sense to me, too, although I wouldn't personally call it a spelling variation because the pronunciation is also different. My intuition says boink is more closely related to bonk than boing, but I can't say with confidence how the word developed. The citation Frank found does seem more like boing than bonk, but most of the examples I found seemed more like bonk to me (onomatopoeia for some kind of blunt-force collision). – snailboat Sep 21 '14 at 13:32
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    @Mari-Lou I don't have much to add to what I've already written, but I can try to answer your last question: it's not really vulgar, just informal, in my opinion. If anything, it sounds a bit silly to me. – snailboat Sep 21 '14 at 21:47
7

According to the following source the usage of 'boink' by David Angell in the American sitcom 'Cheers' may have predated Bruce Willis's line in 1985.

But it seems likely now that Cheers used it first, though not very long before. Les Charles, one of the creators of Cheers, said, in remarks delivered at the memorial service for David Angell (and his wife, who also died in the September 11th incident): "And lest we forget, if he'd never done another thing in his career, David Angell would have earned immortality as the man who added the word boink to the English language."

  • It looks like Angell worked as a writer for _Cheers_ mainly in 1983 and 1984, i.e., the first few seasons of the show; he then went on to work as story editor and producer. Presumably any use of 'boink' attributable to Angell's writing would have been during 1983-1984, predating the 1985 use on Moonlighting. I've not yet seen any concrete evidence that 'boink' was ever used on Soap other than what's said in the Jargon File entry.

Source: www.groups.google.com/forum

The following sentence is from Cheers scripts episode 'Sam and Diane Day' in 1983.

  • "Well, last I saw, you and Diane were here alone. D’ja give her a goodbye boink?"
  • The actress Carla Tortelli, who appeared in all episodes of Cheers in 1982–1993 ( referring to David Angell):
  • "He invented the word boink. Which came from Sam and Diane were boinking, and they were looking for a euphemism for that, and David thought of the word boink. It has since entered the lexicon, which actually, I spoke about that at his memorial service, as part of his legacy."

Source: www.chambersandmalone.tumblr.com

  • Stephen King's boink (sexual intercourse) is dated 1984. Maybe if you scoured the Internet for Cheers show scripts you might find an earlier reference? – Mari-Lou A Sep 21 '14 at 17:22
  • No, the conclusion is that boink (meaning to hit, and heavily related to bonk) existed before it came to be associated with the sexual act. David Angell did not create/invent the actual term boink, perhaps he was the first to give it a sexual meaning. In your answer, you allude to the fact that the script writer "invented" the word, which isn't strictly true. – Mari-Lou A Sep 22 '14 at 8:00
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    "Carla Tortelli" is the character from the show, Rhea Perlman is the actress. – Chris Sunami Aug 28 '15 at 16:10
  • The cited year 1983 is incorrect, please see my answer. – Mari-Lou A Aug 28 '15 at 18:36
3

(It's been bugging me for ages this "boink".)

The earliest instance I found boink, used unequivocally as a verb, is in an electrical engineering volume called R & D Review, 1957.

The analogous picture in a simple mechanical model is that of the bottom of anold-fashioned [sic] oil can just as it “boinks”: there are two stable states separated by an energy barrier. If we had not included the spontaneous distortion (for instance, if the lattice were incompressible but still thermally expansive), then on increasing temperature the interaction energy characterized by T1 …

Thanks also to @josh61's post, I was spurred to watch the American sitcom Cheers for myself. I viewed the entire 11 seasons (1982-1993), and I discovered the term boink, meaning sexual intercourse, was uttered twice in season 3. At that time the shows were written by a staff of writers among whom were David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee who later worked together in the spin-off show Frasier, 1993-2004. According to Wikipedia, the writers in episode 2 were Glen Charles & Les Charles, and episode 22 was written by Sam Simon (co-creator of The Simpsons).

The first utterance of boink occurs in episode 2, Rebound: Part 2

In Rebound: Part 2 the umpteenth waitress hired to replace Diane Chambers quits her job when she discovers the sex-obsessed but charismatic bar owner, Sam Malone, has bedded her sister. Carla Tortelli (played by Rhea Perlman), Sam's most loyal employee, exasperated by the number of waitresses who quit, tells him:

(0.15.15) Carla: Great, great. Now I've gotta work another Saturday night by myself. Sam you promised you weren't going to boink any more waitresses in this joint unless it was me!

Boink appeared again in episode 22 "Cheerio Cheers" but this time as a noun. The following line is delivered at h0.20.02.

Carla: Well, last I saw, you and Diane were here alone. D’ja give her a goodbye boink?

Episode 2 was aired October 4, 1984 whilst episode 22 was filmed in late November 1984, and aired April 11, 1985. Meanwhile Stephen King's novel, Thinner, mentioned in @snailboat's answer was published in November 19, 1984.

LINK TO CHEERS SCRIPTS.

  • 1
    Interesting, but perhaps completely unrelated to the verb sense of boink: Herb Hendler, Year by Year in the Rock Era (1983) reports this use of boink under the heading "Some of the More Widely Used Argot, Jargon and Slang in the Rock Era," for the year 1962: "Boink (stupid)..." The usage seems more closely related to "bonking [hitting] on the head" – Sven Yargs Aug 29 '15 at 7:19
  • @SvenYargs I even found a 1960 Hanna Barbera, Yogi Bear, cartoon titled "Oinks and Boinks" with a sort of alliterative meaning :) – Mari-Lou A Aug 29 '15 at 9:45
  • Another Hanna Barbera cartoon character of the same vintage as Yogi Bear was a Wild West sheriff (and horse) named Quick Draw McGraw, who had a masked and caped alter ego patterned on Zorro, and named "El Kabong"; El Kabong's signature method of capturing crooks was to bong/bonk/boink them on the head with his guitar. – Sven Yargs Aug 29 '15 at 21:06
  • Interestingly, it looks like Thinner was actually written in 1982, although it wasn't published until 1984. – snailboat Sep 10 '15 at 18:03
  • @snailboat a manuscript is not really the same as a book that is ready to be published. It would be really cool if someone where to write to King and ask if he wrote He half-expected them to begin bopping and boinking each other. in the original manuscript though! But for argument's sake let's say he did, would that still count? A coined expression that was not exposed to the public until two years later, I'm not sure if it's "legal" to say King coined it first. – Mari-Lou A Sep 10 '15 at 20:27
1

I was in a group of teenagers in a small school in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England who started using the word "bonk" to mean have sex in about 1970. We have always maintained that we "invented" it having never knowingly heard it used before. We set out on a mission to "spread the word". Maybe we were delusional or could it be that we succeeded?

  • Apparently, the British started bonking in the 1970s :) – Mari-Lou A Sep 18 '15 at 12:37

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