adjective, adverb Chiefly British.

(used as an intensifier): He's a blinking idiot.

Origin of blinking

First recorded in 1910–15; blink + -ing2
Related formsblink·ing·ly, adverb



verb (used without object)

to open and close the eye, especially involuntarily; wink rapidly and repeatedly.
to look with winking or half-shut eyes: I blinked at the harsh morning light.
to be startled, surprised, or dismayed (usually followed by at): She blinked at his sudden fury.
to look evasively or with indifference; ignore (often followed by at): to blink at another's eccentricities.
to shine unsteadily, dimly, or intermittently; twinkle: The light on the buoy blinked in the distance.

verb (used with object)

to open and close (the eye or eyes), usually rapidly and repeatedly; wink: She blinked her eyes in an effort to wake up.
to cause (something) to blink: We blinked the flashlight frantically, but there was no response.
to ignore deliberately; evade; shirk.


an act of blinking: The faithful blink of the lighthouse.
a gleam; glimmer: There was not a blink of light anywhere.
Chiefly Scot. a glance or glimpse.
  1. iceblink.
  2. snowblink.

Origin of blink

1250–1300; Middle English blinken (v.), variant of blenken to blench1; cognate with Dutch, German blinken

Synonyms for blink

1. See wink1. 8. overlook, disregard, avoid, condone. 9. wink, flicker, twinkle, flutter. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for blinking

Contemporary Examples of blinking

Historical Examples of blinking

  • "I would I had your eyes," said Sir Nigel, blinking at the pirate galleys.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Peppajee smoked stolidly, his eyes half closed and blinking sleepily.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • For a moment Mathilde remained motionless, blinking her eyes.

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • Other workmen were smoking, staring up into the sky and blinking their eyes.


    Emile Zola

  • Harry was blinking and stirring and I could tell just by looking at him that he was uneasy too.

    The Man the Martians Made

    Frank Belknap Long

British Dictionary definitions for blinking


adjective, adverb

informal (intensifier)a blinking fool; a blinking good film



to close and immediately reopen (the eyes or an eye), usually involuntarily
(intr) to look with the eyes partially closed, as in strong sunlight
to shine intermittently, as in signalling, or unsteadily
(tr ; foll by away, from , etc) to clear the eyes of (dust, tears, etc)
(when tr , usually foll by at) to be surprised or amazedhe blinked at the splendour of the ceremony
(when intr , foll by at) to pretend not to know or see (a fault, injustice, etc)


the act or an instance of blinking
a glance; glimpse
on the blink slang not working properly

Word Origin for blink

C14: variant of blench 1; related to Middle Dutch blinken to glitter, Danish blinke to wink, Swedish blinka
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

Word Origin and History for blinking



1580s, perhaps from Middle Dutch blinken "to glitter," of uncertain origin, possibly, with German blinken "to gleam, sparkle, twinkle," from a nasalized form of base found in Old English blican "to shine, glitter" (see bleach (v.)).

Middle English had blynke (c.1300) in the sense "a brief gleam or spark," perhaps a variant of blench "to move suddenly or sharply; to raise one's eyelids" (c.1200), perhaps from the rare Old English blencan "deceive." Related: Blinked; blinking. The last, as a euphemism for a stronger word, is attested by 1914.



1590s, "a glance;" see blink (v.). As is the case with the verb, there is a similar word in Middle English, in use from c.1300, that might represent a native form of the same root.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with blinking


see on the blink.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.