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From Middle English twinclen, twynclen, from Old English twinclian (to twinkle), equivalent to twink (to wink; blink; twinkle) +‎ -le (frequentative suffix). Compare German zwinkern (to wink; twinkle).


  • IPA(key): /ˈtwɪŋkl̩/
  • (file)


twinkle (third-person singular simple present twinkles, present participle twinkling, simple past and past participle twinkled)

  1. (of a source of light) to shine with a flickering light; to glimmer
    We could see the lights of the village twinkling in the distance.
    • Sir Isaac Newton
      These stars do not twinkle when viewed through telescopes that have large apertures.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      The western sky twinkled with stars.
  2. (chiefly of eyes) to be bright with delight
    His shrewd little eyes twinkled roguishly.
  3. to bat, blink or wink the eyes
    • Mrs. Juliet M. Hueffer Soskice, "Reminiscences of an Artist's Granddaughter",
      She smiled and gave a little nod and twinkled her eyes []
    • L'Estrange
      The owl fell a moping and twinkling.
  4. to flit to and fro
    • Dorothy Gilman, "Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle"
      A butterfly twinkled among the vines []


Derived terms[edit]



twinkle (plural twinkles)

  1. a sparkle or glimmer of light
    • Robert De Beaugrande, "Text, Discourse, and Process",
      Soon the rocket was out of sight, and the flame was only seen as a tiny twinkle of light.
  2. a sparkle of delight in the eyes.
    He was a rotund, jolly man with a twinkle in his eye.
  3. a flitting movement
    • James Russell Lowell, "Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell",
      I saw the twinkle of white feet,
  4. (colloquial) A brief moment; a twinkling.