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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): /ˈtwɪŋ.kəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪŋkəl


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.
  2. (chiefly of eyes) To be bright with delight.
    Synonym: sparkle
    His shrewd little eyes twinkled roguishly.
  3. To bat, blink or wink the eyes.
  4. To flit to and fro.
    • 1988, Dorothy Gilman, Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle, page 190
      A butterfly twinkled among the vines []


Derived terms[edit]



twinkle (plural twinkles)

  1. A sparkle or glimmer of light.
    • 1980, 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.
  4. (colloquial) A brief moment; a twinkling.
  5. (childish) The female genitalia.
    The popular Swedish cartoon song about genitals was translated as "Willie and Twinkle".