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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)
  • 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
    • 1922, Mrs. Juliet M. Hueffer Soskice, Chapters from Childhood: Reminiscences of an Artist's Granddaughter, page 165
      She smiled and gave a little nod and twinkled her eyes []
    • (Can we date this quote by L'Estrange and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The owl fell a moping and twinkling.
  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
    • (Can we date this quote by Robert De Beaugrande and provide title, author's full name, and other details?), "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
    • (Can we date this quote by James Russell Lowell and provide title, author's full name, and other details?), "Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell",
      I saw the twinkle of white feet,
  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".