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My elderly Mother used a variation on the root word of ‘ChiSai’ 小さい to mean VERY SMALL or TINY -narrow etc. the word she usd was ‘ chinkie’. This has NOTHING to do with the commonly accepted racist or derogatory Modern way in which it is used in English language today.

She was born in 1926 near Kyoto in an area called ‘Anji’ I believe あんじ. I am looking for anyone who has heard this term being used in a manner/definition to mean or indicate ‘tiny’ or very small.

I am finding it to be a colloquialism which is not easy to find online in common dictionaries. Please help me with this as I am seeking anyone else that’s ever heard this term. Thank you so much for any possible information

  • Do you have any usage examples? What was the grammatical pattern? For instance, was this used as a 形容動詞【けいようどうし】 or na-adjective, like ちんき[な]{●}もの? – Eiríkr Útlendi Apr 11 '18 at 22:33
  • She would use it very often to describe anything from small ears to small amount of… あなたの耳はとってもチンキですねかわいいOr to describe something that was smaller than the normal size of the object like miniature eclairs versus regular sized eclairs – Shoga NAGAI Apr 13 '18 at 6:42
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    あなたの耳はとってもチンキですねかわいい <-- It doesn't seem to be connected with ちんけ, then... since ちんけ has a negative/derogative connotation.. – Chocolate Apr 13 '18 at 8:19
  • The word was not used in a negative fashion. She would equate the word to English such as saying ‘little, tiny..’ ‘itsy-bitsy’ When describing something. But not in a way to indicate any negative connetations. – Shoga NAGAI Apr 13 '18 at 17:57
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It's possible that the word your mother used was, or was derived from, the word ちんけ (chinke). This is a 形容動詞【けいようどうし】 or na-adjective.

  • ちんけな店舗【てんぽ】 (chinke na tenpo, "a tiny shop")

Apparently the "one" on a die was called ち (chi) or ちん (chin), or possibly even ちんけ (chinke), in gambling circles. The adjective ちんけ (chinke) derived from the "one" sense, meaning "tiny, the lowest, the smallest, insignificant". Apparently it also has (had?) a slang meaning of "someone who is blind in one eye".

See more in the Daijisen and Daijirin dictionary entries visible here at the Kotobank aggregator site, or in the Agatsuma Dialect Dictionary and Jargon Dictionary entries visible here at the Weblio aggregator site.

Update

In response to comments added to the question post after I'd written the above:

  • She would use it very often to describe anything from small ears to small amount of… あなたの耳はとってもチンキですねかわいいOr to describe something that was smaller than the normal size of the object like miniature eclairs versus regular sized eclairs – Shoga NAGAI
  • あなたの耳はとってもチンキですねかわいい <-- It doesn't seem to be connected with ちんけ, then... since ちんけ has a negative/derogative connotation.. – Chocolate

As Chocolate notes, the ちんけ term from gambling does have negative overtones, as befitting a description of a low score in a game where high scores are good.

ちんき has several possible kanji spellings. None of them mean "small", which is why I suggested a shift from ちんけ earlier. The poster's ちんき could alternatively be a sense development from 珍奇【ちんき】 ("queer, odd") or 珍稀【ちんき】 ("rare, unusual"), perhaps calling out the exceptionally small size of something. Another (more?) likely possibility is a sense development from 珍貴【ちんき】 ("unusual and precious"). Even in English, "precious" is sometimes used to describe small things.

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