Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2012 December 25

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December 25[edit]

Shimmy or shinny down a rope[edit]

News reports of a US jail break report that the two men "shimmied" down 15 stories on a rope made of bed sheets. I picture them doing a 20th century dance move when I read this. The word I expect is "shinny," meaning they use their shins as well as their hands to support themselves as they descend the rope. Has "shimmy" somehow become standard usage for rope climbing? Edison (talk) 02:14, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

Both shimmy and shinny in Wiktionary are defined as forms of climbing, i.e ascending, not descending. I've heard of shimmying up a pole or a tree or a ladder, but not shimmying down. I'd never head of shinnying at all, until this question. - Jack of Oz [Talk] 02:21, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
In the US, it's "shimmy", and you can go up or down the same way (perhaps our Wiktionary entry should be updated to reflect that). StuRat (talk) 03:25, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
The right word is "shinny".[1] It's possible it migrated from "shinny" to "shimmy" over time because the later is a more familiar word, but "shimmy" doesn't really have to do with rope climbing.[2]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:22, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
The OED does not give shimmy in this sense. It does give shinny, glossed as "To shin up a tree. Also with down, absol., and with advb. acc., as to shinny one's way'", and marked as US. --ColinFine (talk) 01:12, 26 December 2012 (UTC) .

I have not heard of the term "shinny" till today too... I like using "Shimmy". Personal opinion, when comparing "shinny" with "shimmy", the latter sounds cooler because... It somewhat sounds like pirate talk, ay? Both sound alright, though. Bonkers The Clown (Nonsensical Babble) 09:44, 26 December 2012 (UTC)


Agree that shinny is not common in the US anymore and shimmy has taken on the meaning of climbing, a well as dance moves and car shaking, which, of course, all came from a chamise, of all things! Shimmy, Shimmy, Co Co Pop. Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:32, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Er, chemise. Chamise is something a little different... :) Matt Deres (talk) 15:39, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Aye. The shammy is to blame. :) Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:24, 27 December 2012 (UTC)