LawProse Lesson #155: Is it properly “brinkmanship” or “brinksmanship”?
Is it properly brinkmanship or brinksmanship? Brinkmanship. There’s no s after the brink, though many people mistakenly add it on the analogy of gamesmanship (which applies to all types of games and competitions). The forthcoming 10th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary will contain this entry: brinkmanship. (1956) A method of gaining a negotiating advantage by suggesting a willingness to do something very dangerous or destructive. — Also termed (less correctly) brinksmanship. The first known use of the term, as indicated in that entry, was 1956: it appeared in the New York Times. In the 1940s and 1950s, the humorist Stephen Potter invented many facetious formations with –manship, including gamesmanship, golfmanship, and one-upmanship. Although he didn’t himself originate brinkmanship, he embraced the word and used it in print in 1958. By then it was on the brink of widespread acceptance.