AskDefine | Define blink

Dictionary Definition

blink n : a reflex that closes and opens the eyes rapidly [syn: eye blink, blinking, wink, winking, nictitation, nictation]


1 briefly shut the eyes; "The TV announcer never seems to blink" [syn: wink, nictitate, nictate]
2 force to go away by blinking; "blink away tears" [syn: wink, blink away]
3 gleam or glow intermittently; "The lights were flashing" [syn: flash, wink, twinkle, winkle]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A quick closing and reopening of both eyes.
    The loser in the staring game is the person who blinks first.
  2. To flash headlights on a car.
    An urban legend claims that gang members will attack anyone who blinks them.
  3. To send a signal with a lighting device.
    Don't come to the door until I blink twice.
  4. In the context of "hyperbole": To perform the smallest action that could solicit a response.
    • 1980, Billy Joel, “Don't Ask Me Why”, Glass Houses, Columbia Records
      All the waiters in your grand cafe / Leave their tables when you blink.


a quick closing and reopening of both eyes
to peep quickly
to flash headlights
to send a signal with a lighting device
hyperbole: to perform the smallest action


  1. The act of very quickly closing both eyes and opening them again.
  2. The time needed to close and reopen ones eyes.


a quick view
Japanese: チラ見 (chirami)
a view with eyes partly closed
The act of very quickly closing both eyes and opening them again
The time needed to close and reopen ones eyes
Translations to be checked



blink g Norwegian

See also

Extensive Definition

Blinking is the rapid closing and opening of the eyelid. It is an essential function of the eye that helps spread tears across and remove irritants from the surface of the cornea and conjunctiva. On average, a blink takes approximately 300 to 400 milliseconds. Blink speed can be affected by elements such as fatigue, eye injury, medication, and disease. A person approximately blinks once every two to ten seconds. The blinking rate is determined by the "blinking center", but it can also be affected by external stimulus. When an animal (usually human) chooses to blink only one eye as a signal to another in a social setting (a form of body language), it is known as winking. However, some animals (for example, tortoises and hamsters) blink their eyes independently of each other.

Function and anatomy of blinking

Blinking provides moisture to the eye by irrigation using tears and a lubricant the eyes secrete. The eyelid provides suction across the eye from the tear duct to the entire eyeball to keep it from drying out.
Blinking also protects the eye from irritants. Eyelashes are hairs attached to the upper and lower eyelids that create a line of defense against dust and other elements to the eye. The eyelashes catch most of these irritants before they reach the eyeball.
There are multiple muscles that control the reflex of blinking. The main muscles, in the upper eyelid, that control the opening and closing are the orbicularis oculi and levator palpebrae superioris muscle. The orbicularis oculi closes the eye, while the relaxation and contraction of the levator palpebrae muscle opens the eye. The Müller’s muscle, or the superior palpebral muscle, in the upper eyelid and the inferior palpebral muscle in the lower eyelid are responsible for widening the eyes. These muscles are not only imperative in blinking, but they are also important in many other functions such as squinting and winking.

Blinking in everyday life


Infants do not blink at the same rate of adults; in fact infants only blink at an average rate of one or two times in a minute. The reason for this difference is unknown, but it is suggested that infants do not require the same amount of eye lubrication that adults do because their eyelid opening is smaller in relation to adults. Additionally, infants do not produce tears during their first month of life. Infants also get a significant amount more sleep than adults do, and, as discussed earlier, fatigued eyes blink more. However, throughout childhood the blink rate increases, and by adolescence, it is usually equivalent to adults.


Women and men do not differ in their rates of spontaneous blinking, averaging around 10 blinks per minute in a laboratory setting. However, when the eyes are focused on object for an extended period of time, such as when reading, the rate of blinking decreases to about 3-4 times per minute. This is the major reason that eyes dry out and become fatigued when reading.
Eye blinking can be a criterion for diagnosing medical conditions. For example, excessive blinking may help to indicate the onset of Tourette syndrome, strokes or disorders of the nervous system. A reduced rate of blinking is associated with Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's patients have a distinct serpentine stare that is very recognizable.


blink in German: Blinzeln
blink in Persian: پلک زدن
blink in French: Nictation
blink in Dutch: Knipperen
blink in Japanese: まばたき
blink in Yiddish: בלינק
blink in Chinese: 眨眼

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

albedo, avoid, bat, bat the eyes, blench, blink at, blinking, broken, carefully ignore, cast, cold-shoulder, coruscate, coruscation, cringe, cut a corner, cut corners, disregard, dodge, draw back, duck, evade, fade, fall back, firefly, flash, flicker, flinch, fudge, funk, glance, gleam, glimmer, glimmering, glimpse, glisk, glisten, glister, glitter, glittering, glowworm, half an eye, hang back, ice sky, iceblink, ignore, in disrepair, incident light, jib, move, nictitate, on the blink, on the fritz, out of order, out of whack, overlook, pass over, pass over lightly, peek, peep, pull back, quail, quick sight, rapid glance, recoil, reel back, reflectance, reflection, retreat, scamp, scintilla, scintillate, scintillation, sheer off, shimmer, shimmering, shrink, shrink back, shy, sidestep, skim, skim over, skim the surface, skimp, skip over, slant, slight, slubber over, slur, slur over, snowblink, spangle, spark, sparkle, squiz, start, start aside, start back, stroboscopic light, swerve, tinsel, touch upon, touch upon lightly, turn aside, twinkle, twinkling, water sky, waterblink, weasel, weasel out, wince, wink, wink at
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