verb (used without object)
  1. to close and open one or both eyes quickly.
  2. 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.
  3. (of the eyes) to close and open thus; blink.
  4. to shine with little flashes of light; twinkle: The city lights winked in the distance.
verb (used with object)
  1. to close and open (one or both eyes) quickly; execute or give (a wink).
  2. to drive or force by winking (usually followed by back or away): She attempted to wink back the tears.
  3. to signal or convey by a wink.
  1. an act of winking.
  2. a winking movement, especially of one eye in giving a hint or signal.
  3. a hint or signal given by winking.
  4. the time required for winking once; an instant or twinkling: I'll be there in a wink.
  5. a little flash of light; twinkle.
  6. the least bit: I didn't sleep a wink last night.
Verb Phrases
  1. wink at, to ignore deliberately, as to avoid the necessity of taking action: to wink at minor offenses.

Origin of wink

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 formswink·ing·ly, adverbun·wink·ing, adjective

Synonyms for wink

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for unwinking

Historical Examples of unwinking

  • Silvine was very white, and gazed at the men with unwinking, staring eyes.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • His stony, unwinking stare was fixed on the planks of the deck.

    End of the Tether

    Joseph Conrad

  • The dawn from behind the mountains put a gleam into his unwinking eyes.

  • Bruin deigned no reply, but continued to survey him with steady, unwinking eyes.

    The Young Miner

    Horatio Alger, Jr.

  • Just as she turned to go out, I saw her eyes upon me, dry, unwinking.

    The Blue Wall

    Richard Washburn Child

British Dictionary definitions for unwinking


  1. vigilant; watchful


  1. (intr) to close and open one eye quickly, deliberately, or in an exaggerated fashion to convey friendliness, etc
  2. to close and open (an eye or the eyes) momentarily
  3. (tr; foll by away, back, etc) to force away (tears, etc) by winking
  4. (tr) to signal with a wink
  5. (intr) (of a light) to gleam or flash intermittently
  1. a winking movement, esp one conveying a signal, etc, or such a signal
  2. an interrupted flashing of light
  3. a brief moment of time; instant
  4. informal the smallest amount, esp of sleepSee also forty winks
  5. tip the wink British informal to give a hint

Word Origin for wink

Old English wincian; related to Old Saxon wincon, Old High German winchan, German winken to wave. See wench, winch


  1. a disc used in the game of tiddlywinks

Word Origin for wink

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

Word Origin and History for unwinking



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

unwinking in Medicine


  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.
  1. 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.

Idioms and Phrases with unwinking


In addition to the idiom beginning with wink

  • wink at

also see:

  • forty winks
  • quick as a wink
  • sleep a wink
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.