AskDefine | Define slinky

User Contributed Dictionary

see Slinky




slinky (comparative slinkier, superlative slinkiest)
  1. furtive, stealthy or catlike


  1. a three-dimensional curve - a spiral wound around a helix

Extensive Definition

A Slinky is a coil-shaped toy invented by mechanical engineer Richard James in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Slinkies come in various sizes. The shape is a simple helix, or coil design, of a ribbon of material, originally metal. The Slinky can "walk" down stairs as the coils stretch and reform as gravity moves them down each step.


In 1943, Richard James, his assistant Coleman Barber, a U.S. Marine engineer stationed at the Cramp shipyards in Philadelphia, and half brother Dylan Gedig, a Canadian engineer, observed a torsion spring fall off a table and roll around on the deck (a torsion spring has no compression or tension). He told his wife: "I think there could be a toy in this." With a US$500 loan, the three men ran tests, experimented with materials, and produced four hundred units of the toy. Betty James did some dictionary searching and she came up with the name "Slinky".
In November 1945, Richard and Betty James, through an arrangement with Gimbels in Philadelphia, were granted permission to set up an inclined plane in the toy department and demonstrate the spring's battery-less "walking" abilities.
James Industries, the James' business, grew rapidly. In 1948 they built a factory for twenty employees in suburban Philadelphia, and a decade later, headquarters were set up in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, where the factory remained for thirty years. As the company expanded, so did the product line. New Slinky toys, including Slinky Jr. and the Slinky Dog, were developed while non-coiled toys such as building kits were added to the inventory. However, Slinky has remained the core product of James Industries.
Commercials for the Slinky featured the memorable jingle: "It's Slinky, it's Slinky, for fun it's a wonderful toy. It's Slinky, it's Slinky, it's fun for a girl and a boy."
During the Vietnam War, Slinkys were also used as mobile radio antennae. By moving the ends of a stretched Slinky side to side or back and forth, transverse and longitudinal wave motion can be demonstrated. This can be especially useful in teaching seismology.
One or (sometimes) two Slinkys used together can be used as the basis of a shortwave radio antenna. Amateur radio operators have even used them as transmitting antennas.
The Slinky can also be used in physics experiments as a solenoid to induce a magnetic field. It can be used to explore the factors that affect a magnetic field inside a solenoid.


The Slinky's jingle was borrowed for some early TV ads for the Isuzu MU Wizard, when the model was called Amigo. The driver and passengers sang: "Amigo, Amigo, it's fun for a girl and a boy!"
The jingle was also parodied on The Ren and Stimpy Show in a fake commercial for a fictional toy called Log. The lyrics, sung to a similar tune as the Slinky jingle, were "''It's Lo-og, it's Lo-og, it's big, it's heavy, it's wood! It's Lo-og, it's Lo-og, it's better than bad, it's good!"
slinky in Tosk Albanian: Slinky
slinky in Min Nan: Slinky
slinky in Danish: Slinky
slinky in German: Slinky
slinky in French: Slinky
slinky in Hebrew: סלינקי
slinky in Dutch: Slinky
slinky in Japanese: スリンキー
slinky in Norwegian: Trappetroll
slinky in Swedish: Slinky
slinky in Vietnamese: Slinky

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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