Minx vs. Mink – What’s the Difference?

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Is a small, brown, weasley animal a mink or minx? If you have gotten these two words mixed up in the past, you aren’t alone. They are not only similar in spelling but also sound similar.

But they mean two very different things. A mink is an animal, while a minx is a slang term to describe a young woman – and its connotative use isn’t flattering. Therefore, they should be used correctly lest you insult some innocent furry creature.

What’s the Difference Between Minx vs. Mink?

Minx vs. Mink Whats the Difference

A mink is a weasel-like carnivore native to the Northern Hemisphere, known for its lustrous fur. Minx is a slang term for a promiscuous or flirtatious young woman known for causing trouble. The term sometimes carries a sexist connotation.

What Is a Mink?

A mink is a small mammal of the weasel family (Mustelidae). The plural of mink is minks, and they are native to the Northern Hemisphere – found through Northern Europe and North America. They are also bred in captivity for their luxurious and warm fur.

In the wild, they are somewhat secretive, nocturnal, and slightly aquatic, often taking to the water after prey. They are strictly carnivorous and wily creatures that will go after larger prey, including muskrats and domesticated farm animals such as chickens, ducks, and even rabbits.

Due to their popularity for fur, they can now be found in areas considered non-native, such as southern Europe and even South America, due to escapes from fur farms. They pose a threat to native species in these areas and are considered highly problematic.

For example:

  • The introduction of the mink to the island for nuisance animal control backfired, and now the mink is a nuisance as well.
  • Minks were long coveted for their fur, but most fur farms have long been closed down since more humane faux fur is available.
  • We were afraid we had a mink problem when some chickens went missing, but we found out the neighbor’s dog was paying the damaging visits instead.

What Is a Minx?

A minx is a slang term for a boldly flirtatious or trouble-making young woman. She is almost always described as alluring, attractive, and generally seductive in her behaviors. A minx also maintains a sense of class and poise despite possible inappropriate behaviors.

For example:

  • She glanced around, minx-like, at the room to see what attention her entrance had gathered.
  • Their eyes were on the two minxes across the room, flirting and casting eyes at the men who followed their every move; they wanted to make sure no trouble was caused.
  • Monica thought her friend Alex was such a minx; all she ever cared about when they went out was how many phone numbers she could get.

Origins of Minx

Minx Ngram
Minx usage trend.

The etymology of minx goes back to the mid-16th century word mynx, meaning a pet dog. By the late 16th century, the term had taken on another meaning: a “young, pert, wanton girl.”

The irony of this is not lost on most people in that a young, likely eligible lady of questionable background would essentially be called the same name as a “pet dog.” It didn’t take long for mynx (or minx) to be associated with a lewd woman or one who offered affection for protection or financial gain in return.

Its usage in this manner may also have been influenced by the Low German word minsk, meaning a man or impudent woman, related to the German word mensch, meaning (in vulgar terms) a “wench, hussy, or slut.”

Let’s Review

Despite their similarities, minx and mink are not related. A minx is a flirtatious young lady who may cause trouble more often than not. A mink is a small mammal related to a weasel native to the Northern Hemisphere.