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Historically, the idea of being "jinxed" or "jynxed" is particularly prominent in nautical contexts. Ships which suffered a series of misfortunes were considered by many sailors to be "jynxed", and were then avoided. The jynx might be associated with a particular sailor or passenger, who the crew might then seek to remove. This old tradition is still seen in modern language; for example, in the 21st-century press, the suggestion a ship might be "jinxed" was made in connection with two cruise liners after misfortunes, MS Queen Victoria and the Emerald Princess. In the 20th century, the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne was sometimes said to be jinxed, having twice struck a friendly ship, with considerable loss of life on both occasions.
Calling attention to good fortune – e.g. noting that a certain athlete is having a streak of particularly good fortune – is sometimes said to "jinx" it.
Jinx is also a children's game when the two of them say the same thing at the same time.
The Online Etymology Dictionary states that 'jynx', meaning a charm or spell, was in usage in English as early as the 1690s. The same source states that 'jinx', with that specific spelling, is first attested in American English in 1911. Jynx/jinx traces it to the 17th-century word jyng, meaning "a spell", and ultimately to the Latin word iynx, also spelled jynx. Iynx or jynx (in Latin 'j' and 'i' are the same letter) was the Latin and Greek name of a bird, the wryneck, associated with sorcery; not only was the bird used in the casting of spells and in divination, but the Ancient Romans and Greeks traced the bird's mythological origins to a sorceress named Iynx, who was transformed into this bird to punish her for a spell cast on the god Zeus.
A "Mr Jinx" appeared in Ballou's monthly magazine - Volume 6, page 276, in 1857.
Barry Popik of the American Dialect Society suggests that the word should be traced back to an American folksong called Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines written by William Lingard in 1868.
In 1887, the character Jinks Hoodoo, described as "a curse to everybody, including himself" appeared in the musical comedy Little Puck, and the name was quickly picked up by the press.
By th' bones of Mike Kelly, I'll do it! Yes, sir, I'll hoodoo th' whole darned club, I will. I'll put a jinx on 'em or my name ain't Dasher, an' that goes!
But the ball players instantly knew the truth. "A jinx, a jinx," they whispered along the bench. "Cross-eyed girl sittin' over there back o' third. See her ? She's got Th' Dasher. Holy smoke, look at them eyes!"
Like the discreet and experienced manager he was, McNabb did not chasten his men in this hour of peril. He treated the matter just as seriously as they, condoling with The Dasher, bracing up the Yeggman, execrating the jinx and summoning all his occult strategy to outwit it.
and later referenced in Pitching at a Pinch (1912), Christy Mathewson explained that "a jinx is something which brings bad luck to a ball player." Baseball's most common "jinx" belief is that talking about a pitcher's ongoing no-hitter will cause it to be ended. See also Curse of the Bambino.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary: Jinx". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- "Jinx". World Wide Words. 2011-01-15. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- "Jinx". World Wide Words. 2011-01-15. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
- The jinx: stories of the diamond - Google Books. Books.google.com. 2006-11-09. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- "Jinx". World Wide Words. 1999-08-14. Retrieved 2010-10-11.