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[per-i-wing-kuh l]
See more synonyms for periwinkle on Thesaurus.com
  1. any of various marine gastropods or sea snails, especially Littorina littorea, used for food in Europe.
  2. the shell of any of these animals.
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Origin of periwinkle1

1520–30; perhaps reflecting (through assimilation to periwinkle2) Old English pīnewincle, equivalent to pīne (from Latin pīna from Greek pínē,pîna, a kind of mollusk) + -wincel “shellfish” (occurring only in compounds), cognate with dialectal Danish vinkel “snail shell”


[per-i-wing-kuh l]
  1. Also called myrtle. a trailing plant, Vinca minor, of the dogbane family, having glossy, evergreen foliage and usually blue-violet flowers.
  2. any of several similar plants of the genus Vinca or Catharanthus.
  3. a blue-violet color.
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Origin of periwinkle2

before 1000; earlier pervinkle, perwinkle, alteration (see -le) of Middle English perwinke, pervinke, from Anglo-French pervenke (Old French pervenche,) from Late Latin pervinca, Latin vi(n)capervi(n)ca; compare Old English peruince, Middle High German ber(e)winke from Late Latin pervinca
Related formsper·i·win·kled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for periwinkle

Historical Examples

  • Periwinkle and Pearl were also there, taking their first skating lesson.

    Pearl and Periwinkle

    Anna Graetz

  • It was Periwinkle's voice however that called him back again.

  • In the heart of Periwinkle a new fire was kindled, a new shrine built.

  • She could easily sympathize with Periwinkle in his aversion for her.

  • Dark as were his thoughts his blue eyes were as soft as the periwinkle.

    Peter and Wendy

    James Matthew Barrie

British Dictionary definitions for periwinkle


  1. any of various edible marine gastropods of the genus Littorina, esp L. littorea, having a spirally coiled shellOften shortened to: winkle
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Word Origin

C16: of unknown origin


  1. Also called (US): creeping myrtle, trailing myrtle any of several Eurasian apocynaceous evergreen plants of the genus Vinca, such as V. minor (lesser periwinkle) and V. major (greater periwinkle), having trailing stems and blue flowers
    1. a light purplish-blue colour
    2. (as adjective)a periwinkle coat
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Word Origin

C14 pervenke, from Old English perwince, from Late Latin pervinca
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 periwinkle


evergreen plant, c.1500, diminutive of parvink (12c.), from Old English perwince, from Late Latin pervinca "periwinkle" (4c.), from Latin, perhaps from pervincire "to entwine, bind," from per- "thoroughly" (see per) + vincire "to bind, fetter" (see wind (v.1)).

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kind of sea snail, 1520s, apparently an alteration of Old English pinewincle (probably by influence of Middle English parvink; see periwinkle (n.1)); from Old English pine-, which probably is from Latin pina "mussel," from Greek pine. The second element is wincel "corner; spiral shell," from Proto-Germanic *winkil-, from PIE root *weng- "to bend, curve" (see wink (v.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper