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[wingk] /wɪŋk/
verb (used without object)
to close and open one or both eyes quickly.
to close and open one eye quickly as a hint or signal or with some sly meaning (often followed by at):
She winked at him across the room.
(of the eyes) to close and open thus; blink.
to shine with little flashes of light; twinkle:
The city lights winked in the distance.
verb (used with object)
to close and open (one or both eyes) quickly; execute or give (a wink).
to drive or force by winking (usually followed by back or away):
She attempted to wink back the tears.
to signal or convey by a wink.
an act of winking.
a winking movement, especially of one eye in giving a hint or signal.
a hint or signal given by winking.
the time required for winking once; an instant or twinkling:
I'll be there in a wink.
a little flash of light; twinkle.
the least bit:
I didn't sleep a wink last night.
Verb phrases
wink at, to ignore deliberately, as to avoid the necessity of taking action:
to wink at minor offenses.
Origin of wink1
before 900; (v.) Middle English winken, Old English wincian; cognate with German winken to wave, signal; (noun) Middle English: nap, derivative of the v.
Related forms
winkingly, adverb
unwinking, adjective
1. Wink, blink refer to rapid motions of the eyelid. To wink is to close and open either one or both eyelids with a rapid motion. To blink suggests a sleepy, dazed, or dazzled condition in which it is difficult to focus the eyes or see clearly: Bright sun makes one blink. 4. sparkle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wink back
Historical Examples
  • I found myself obliged to wink back the tears which came along with my laughter.

    Home Fires in France Dorothy Canfield
  • She turned and looked over the rail, struggling to wink back her tears.

    A Man to His Mate J. Allan Dunn
  • They will all no doubt wear as long as we need them, and wink on long after we have ceased to wink back.

    Remarks Bill Nye
  • Betty, stealing a glance at her, saw her wink back the tears.

    Betty Wales Freshman Edith K. Dunton
  • It makes him feel himself a man to wink back those tears of pain.

    A Warwickshire Lad George Madden Martin
  • It isnt my watch; but I lowed Id lie here on this cod-trap an wink back at the stars.

    Every Man for Himself Norman Duncan
  • The strokes were so strong that each one made little half-asleep Carl wink; and the stars seemed to wink back to him each time.

  • And the other two would take it up and wink back solemn as mummers.

    Wandering Heath Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
British Dictionary definitions for wink back


(intransitive) to close and open one eye quickly, deliberately, or in an exaggerated fashion to convey friendliness, etc
to close and open (an eye or the eyes) momentarily
(transitive; foll by away, back, etc) to force away (tears, etc) by winking
(transitive) to signal with a wink
(intransitive) (of a light) to gleam or flash intermittently
a winking movement, esp one conveying a signal, etc, or such a signal
an interrupted flashing of light
a brief moment of time; instant
(informal) the smallest amount, esp of sleep See also forty winks
(Brit, informal) tip the wink, to give a hint
Word Origin
Old English wincian; related to Old Saxon wincon, Old High German winchan, German winken to wave. See wench, winch


a disc used in the game of tiddlywinks
Word Origin
C20: shortened from tiddlywinks
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wink back



Old English wincian "to nod, wink," from Proto-Germanic *wenkanan (cf. Dutch wenken, Old High German winkan, German winken), a gradational variant of the root of Old High German wankon "to stagger, totter," Old Norse vakka "to stray, hover," from PIE *weng- "to bend, curve." The meaning "close an eye as a hint or signal" is first recorded c.1100; that of "close one's eyes to fault or irregularity" first attested late 15c. Related: Winked; winking.


c.1300, from wink (v.); meaning "very brief moment of time" is attested from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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wink back in Medicine

wink (wĭngk)
v. winked, wink·ing, winks

  1. To close and open the eyelid of one eye deliberately, as to convey a message, signal, or suggestion.

  2. To close and open the eyelids of both eyes; blink.

A quick closing and opening of the eyelids; a blink.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Related Abbreviations for wink back


windowed eat-in kitchen
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with wink back


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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