Pinky swear

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Pinky swear

To pinky swear, or to make a pinky promise, is a traditional gesture most commonly practiced amongst children involving the locking of the pinkies of two people to signify that a promise has been made.[1] The gesture is taken to signify that the person can break the finger of the one who broke the promise. The tradition appears to be a relatively modern invention, possibly as a continuation of older finger traditions.[2][3]

Prevalence worldwide[edit]

In the United States, tit is most common among school-aged children and close friends and has existed since at least 1860, when Dictionary of Americanisms listed the following accompanying promise:

Pinky, pinky bow-bell,
Whoever tells a lie
Will sink down to the bad place [sic]
And never rise up again.[4]

Pinky swearing has an equivalent in Japan, where it is called yubikiri (指切り, "finger cut-off") and often additionally confirmed with the vow "Finger cut-off, ten thousand fist-punchings, whoever lies has to swallow thousand needles." (指切拳万、嘘ついたら針千本呑ます, "Yubikiri genman, uso tsuitara hari senbon nomasu").[5]

Recently in South Korea, the hooked pinky has been followed by a "seal", wherein the thumbs touch each other while the pinkies are still hooked.[6][7]

In Belfast it is referred to as a "piggy promise".[2]

In Italy a similar tradition is called "giurin giurello" or "giurin giuretto".


  1. ^ Radiography of the Upper Extremities. CE4RT. 2014.
  2. ^ a b Roud, Stephen (2010). The Lore of the Playground: One Hundred Years of Children's Games, Rhymes and Traditions. Random House. ISBN 9781905211517.
  3. ^ Roud, Steve (29/10/2010). "The state of play". The Guardian. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ "Pinky". Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms. googlebooks. 1860. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
  5. ^ Daijirin
  6. ^
  7. ^