verb (used without object), nic·ti·tat·ed, nic·ti·tat·ing.

to wink.

Nearby words

  1. nicotinize,
  2. nicoya,
  3. nicoya peninsula,
  4. nicoya, gulf of,
  5. nictheroy,
  6. nictitating membrane,
  7. nictitation,
  8. nicu,
  9. nid-nod,
  10. nida

Also nic·tate.

Origin of nictitate

1815–25; < Medieval Latin nictitātus, past participle of nictitāre, frequentative of Latin nictāre to wink, frequentative of nicere to beckon; see -ate1

Related formsnic·ti·tant, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for nictitate


nictate (ˈnɪkteɪt)


technical words for blink (def. 1)
Derived Formsnictitation or nictation, noun

Word Origin for nictitate

C19: from Medieval Latin nictitāre to wink repeatedly, from Latin nictāre to wink, from nicere to beckon

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 nictitate



"to wink," 1822, from Medieval Latin nictitatus, past participle of nictitare, frequentative of Latin nictare "wink, blink," related to nicere "to beckon," from PIE root *kneigwh- "to lean on, to bend" (the eyelids together). Related: Nictitated; nictitating (1713). Earlier form was nictate (v.), 1690s, from Latin nictare.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper