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See also: Winker


Winker on a horse in Chania, Crete


wink +‎ -er



winker (plural winkers)

  1. A screen attached to the bridle of a horse or other domesticated animal preventing it from being able to see things to its side.
    • 1583, William Fulke, A Defense of the Sincere and True Translations of the Holie Scriptures into the English Tong[3], London, page 32:
      [] because this Censurer slaundereth manie men, another might say of him, he is the common packhorse of the Papistes, to carrie any fardell of lyes deuised against any Christian man or booke that commeth in his way, and the rather because he weareth a paire of winkers ouer his eyes like a milhorse, being ashamed to shewe either his face or his name.
    • 1914, James Stephens, The Demi-Gods, New York: Macmillan, Book 1, Chapter 1, p. 4,[4]
      [] Take the winkers off that donkey’s face, and let him get a bit to eat; there’s grass enough, God knows, and it’s good grass.”
    • 1964, Vladimir Nabokov, Eugene Onegin by Aleksandr Pushkin, Volume 2, Commentary on Preliminaries and Chapters One to Five, New York: Pantheon, p. 168,
      The collar of his cambric shirt, English fashion, is highly starched and looks like winkers, its points projecting upward in front with a wide gap between.
  2. Somebody who winks; somebody who connives.
    • 1574, John Bale, The Pageant of Popes, London, Dedicatory epistle,[5]
      And so may we iudge of these wilye winkers in Religion, that either they be blindstockes in deede and lacke the light of that Heauenlye wysedome, which they pretende to haue, or els their wicked wysedome is but a cloake of wickednes []
    • 1614, Patrick Forbes, A Defence of the Lawful Calling of the Ministers of Reformed Churches[6], Middelburg, page 25:
      [] oftymes, men are, of necessitie, forced to speak the more amply even of plaine matters: as offering them not so much to the view of men who see, but even, in a sort, to bee handled by groapers and winkers.
    • 1715, Alexander Pope, letter to James Craggs dated 15 July, 1715, in Mr. Pope’s Literary Correspondence for Thirty Years; from 1704 to 1734, London: E. Curll, Volume 1, p. 105,[7]
      We have, it seems, a great Turk in Poetry, who can never bear a Brother on the throne; and has his Mutes too, a sett of Nodders, Winkers, and Whisperers, whose business is to strangle all other offsprings of wit in their birth.
    • 1920, Stella Benson, chapter 2, in Living Alone[8], London: Macmillan, page 52:
      The witch saw at once that there was some secret understanding between him and her that she did not understand. Her magic escapades often left her in this position. However, she winked back hopefully. But she was not a skilled winker. Everybody—even the Dog David—saw her doing it []
  3. (UK, colloquial) An eye.[1]
    • 1947, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, Coldknuckles, London: Frederick Muller, Part One,[9]
      With keener stare
      The man’s eyes scanned him, with the flare
      Of yellow light full on his face,
      As though his memory sought to trace
      Something familiar in the lean
      Clearcut young features and the clean
      Blue winkers: then his own hard eyes
      Twinkled []
  4. (US, colloquial) An eyelash.[2]
    • 1864, Mary Jane Holmes, chapter 38, in Darkness and Daylight[10], Toronto: J. Ross Robertson, published 1882, page 138:
      ‘We’re like father and Aunt Nina, hanging on the wall in the library. Mother’s got big black eyes, with winkers a rod long, and her hair shines like my velvet coat, and comes most to her feet.’
    • 1915, Arthur Stringer, “Monday the Eleventh”, in The Prairie Wife[11], New York: A.L. Burt, page 179:
      I had fallen down on my knees, with my back to the wind, and already the snow had drifted around me. I also found my eye-lashes frozen together, and I lost several winkers in getting rid of those solidified tears.
    • 1931, B. M. Bower, chapter 17, in The Dark Horse[12], New York: Little, Brown:
      His eyebrows are gone and his winkers, and he’s as red as a gobbler’s neck.
  5. The winking membrane of a bird's eye; the winking muscle.
    • 1890, Elliott Coues, Handbook of Field and General Ornithology, London: Macmillan, Part 2, Section 4, p. 267,[13]
      There is a third inner eyelid, highly developed and of beautiful mechanism: this is the nictitating membrane, or “winker” (nictito, I wink), a delicate, elastic, translucent, pearly-white fold of the conjunctiva. While the other lids move vertically and have a horizontal commissure, the winker sweeps horizontally or obliquely across the ball, from the side next the beak to the opposite.
  6. A small bellows in an organ, regulated by a spring, controlling variations of wind pressure.
    • 1877, William H. Clarke, An Outline of the Structure of the Pipe Organ[14], Boston: Oliver Ditson, page 21:
      Where the wind-trunk is short between the reservoir and wind-chests the tone will be steady; but when it is long, and with bends, the elasticity of the air causes an unsteadiness in the tone, which must be obviated by the use of concussion-bellows, sometimes called “winkers,” or by an elastic diaphragm.
  7. A player of the game of tiddlywinks.
    Synonym: tiddlywinker


Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Anonymous, Real Life in London, London: T. Johnson, no date (19th century), Volume 1, p. 608, footnote: “Wakeful winker—A sharp eye.”[1]
  2. ^ John Jamieson, A Dictionary of the Scottish Language, abridged by John Johnstone, Edinburgh: William Tait, 1846, p. 758.[2]