• synonyms


[wing-kuh l]British
  1. any of various marine gastropods; periwinkle1.
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verb (used with object), win·kled, win·kling.
  1. Informal. to pry (something) out of a place, as winkle meat is dug out of its shell with a pin (usually followed by out).
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Origin of winkle

First recorded in 1575–85; short for periwinkle1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for winkle

Historical Examples of winkle

  • For years, like Mr. Winkle, we've declared we were just about to begin, and then never began at all.

    The Chocolate Soldier

    C. T. Studd

  • Chesterton has now another dog, but he will never get another Winkle.

    Gilbert Keith Chesterton

    Patrick Braybrooke

  • Neither Winkle nor Snodgrass started this hypothesis, but Tupman.

    Pickwickian Studies

    Percy Fitzgerald

  • Winkle,” a corresponding member also; and a something of a sportsman.

    Pickwickian Studies

    Percy Fitzgerald

  • "Never mind touching your hat, Sam," said Mr. Winkle hastily.

British Dictionary definitions for winkle


  1. See periwinkle 1
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  1. (tr; usually foll by out, out of, etc) informal, mainly British to extract or prise out
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Word Origin for winkle

C16: shortened from periwinkle 1
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 winkle


edible mollusk, 1580s, shortening of periwinkle (n.2).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper