Pinky swear

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Pinky swear

To pinky swear, or to make a pinky promise, is the touching of the pinkies of two people to signify that a promise has been made.

In the United States, the pinky swear 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.[1]

Pinky swearing presumably started 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").[2] The gesture may be connected to the Japanese belief that soulmates are connected by a red string of fate attached to each of their pinkies.

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.

In modern times, pinky swearing is a more informal way of sealing a promise. It is most common among school-age children and close friends. The pinky swear signifies a promise that can never be broken. Pinky promises can only be made if there is a clear understanding on both parties. If there is no clear understanding then the pinky promise may be voided. [3]

A new movement using #iPinkySwear started after Linda "Pinky" Brown was hit by a distracted driver while riding her motorcycle. On September 1st, 2015, Canadian distracted driving laws and fines were given harsher penalties. It was this day that "Pinky" was hit by an individual with 9 previous major driving infractions, her injuries being number 10. While in the hospital the campaign known as "Don't Drive Distracted- I Pinky Swear" was born. Now the phrase "I Pinky Swear" has become a promise to not drive distracted. [4]


  1. ^ "Pinky". Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms. googlebooks. 1860. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
  2. ^ Daijirin
  3. ^ Iwai, H . Byōri Shūdan: "Sheishin-Shobō", p. 225. 1963
  4. ^