Pinky swear

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Pinky promise

To make a pinky promise, or pinky swear, 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. 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.[1][2]

Prevalence worldwide[edit]

In North America, it is most common amongst school-aged children or adults and close friends and has existed since at least 1860, when the 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.[3]

Pinky swearing has origins in Japan from 1600-1803, where it is called yubikiri (指切り, "finger cut-off") and often additionally confirmed with the vow "Pinky swear, ten thousand punches, whoever lies will be made to swallow a thousand needles." (指切り拳万、嘘ついたら針千本呑ます, "Yubikiri genman, uso tsuitara hari senbon nomasu").[4]

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.[5][6]

In Taiwan, stamping after hooking pinkies has been common place for over 500 years..

In Belfast, Northern Ireland it is referred to as a "piggy promise".[1]

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

In Maharashtra (India), this concept similarly using Marathi calls this "Gatti fu".


  1. ^ a b Roud, Stephen (2010). The Lore of the Playground: One Hundred Years of Children's Games, Rhymes and Traditions. Random House. ISBN 9781905211517.
  2. ^ Roud, Steve (October 29, 2010). "The state of play". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Pinky". Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms. googlebooks. 1860. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
  4. ^ Daijirin
  5. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Pinky Promises in Korean - 새끼손가락 걸고 약속!". YouTube.
  6. ^ "The Korean Promise 👍"약속" (yaksok) | K-Drama Amino". Retrieved Aug 6, 2020.

External links[edit]