• 1Shut and open the eyes quickly:

    ‘I blinked in astonishment’
    [with object] ‘he blinked his eyes nervously’
    ‘she blinked away her tears’
    • ‘It took him a little while, but he finally opened his eyes, blinking tiredly.’
    • ‘The door opened and a tall thin man appeared, Koishi blinked and quickly stepped away.’
    • ‘We pushed it open, and stood blinking in the dark of the hall.’
    • ‘He blinked quickly and then turned to look at the half open door where his mother was leaning inside.’
    • ‘I nodded quickly, blinking as I began looking ahead of me again.’
    • ‘I had my head lolled to one side, mouth open, eyes weakly blinking.’
    • ‘She says it all very quickly and I blink as I take it in.’
    • ‘Julia opened her eyes blinking up at the dark ceiling of her bedroom.’
    • ‘She waited for it to go away; she blinked, shut her eyes and opened them again to no avail.’
    • ‘His mouth was open slightly and his eyes where wide open and not blinking.’
    • ‘After a few minutes, the door swung open, and Neko blinked up at me.’
    • ‘The man blinked, before opening the door wider and ushering me inside.’
    • ‘His voice remains level, but he blinks quickly and hard.’
    • ‘He opened his eyes and quickly blinked as the rainwater seeped into his eyes.’
    • ‘She blinked open her bloodshot eyes and didn't really seem to see me.’
    • ‘‘Okay, my turn,’ I said quickly, blinking rapidly to make up for the past few seconds.’
    • ‘She felt tears bristling again, and took a few deep breaths, blinking quickly.’
    • ‘Arielle blinked twice before opening her eyes fully and staring at Luke with her usual cheery smile.’
    • ‘I grab her chin forcefully with my hand and pull her face towards mine, watching her as she blinks furiously and opens her eyes wide.’
    • ‘Eyes blinked open… only to be greeted by the sight of a small girl, making her way up the winding path as if this were no particular day.’
    shut and open, flutter, flicker, wink, bat
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    1. 1.1blink something back[with object] Try to control or prevent tears by blinking:
      ‘Elizabeth blinked back tears’
      • ‘Her gray eyes filled with tears, but she blinked them back resolutely.’
      • ‘My eyes began flooding with tears, but I tried to blink them back.’
      • ‘She lay there for a few seconds before blinking the tears back.’
      • ‘She drew in a breath, and blinked her tears back.’
      • ‘Emily found her eyes full of tears, and blinked them back.’
      • ‘A frown appeared on his face, as he desperately tried to blink his tears back.’
      • ‘I felt my eyes mist at the mention of my father's name, and then blinked the tears back.’
      • ‘She looked like she wanted to cry but she blinked the tears back.’
      • ‘Tears threatened to flood her eyes and she blinked them back, only to encourage them to overflow.’
      • ‘I blinked my tears back and followed behind Matt.’
    2. 1.2blink at[usually with negative] React to (something) with surprise or disapproval:
      ‘he doesn't blink at the unsavoury aspects of his subject’
      • ‘Neither mother nor child even blinked at the scene they created.’
      • ‘Victorian morality and its inherent contradictions wouldn't have blinked at the pair's duplicity.’
      • ‘We don't even blink at these expressions of violence any more.’
      • ‘Well, purchasing power is up for sure and nobody blinks at a thousand rupees for a ticket anymore.’
      • ‘Why, he asks, does wearing the swastika attract widespread scorn, while no one blinks at the person wearing a hammer and sickle on his baseball cap?’
      be surprised, look twice, be startled, be shocked
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    3. 1.3 Back down from a confrontation:
      ‘the government blinked only after losing 46 of the first 48 hearings’
      • ‘Another area where enterprise customers blink is multiple sources.’
      • ‘The ancient British art of industrial brinkmanship is risky for managements and unions that try to force each other to blink first.’
      • ‘"Each one is waiting to see who will blink first," said one foreign diplomat.’
      • ‘It looks like they're playing chicken to see who's going to blink first.’
      • ‘With Miami, Cleveland and Tampa Bay showing interest, he can walk away from the table without blinking.’
      • ‘He'll have to hope Labor blinks even if no new evidence is produced.’
      • ‘On the matter of generic pharmaceuticals, it seems to be a case of who blinks first.’
      • ‘As ever, he thinks he will be the last to blink.’
      • ‘I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink.’
      • ‘Well, Katherine Graham didn't blink, and the rest, as they say, is history.’
      • ‘"But on this issue they'll have to blink and swallow some castor oil to get what they want."’
      • ‘But New England's offensive line hasn't blinked much.’
  • 2(of a light) flash on and off in a regular or intermittent way:

    ‘the car's right-hand indicator was blinking’
    • ‘At night all the lights blink and flash, and you can hear waves of screams from the rides.’
    • ‘Lights were blinking on the signs that commanded vehicles to stop.’
    • ‘The overhead lights blinked once, then went out, casting the compartment in darkness.’
    • ‘As the sun set, the fluorescent jetty lights blinked on, producing pools of glittering reflections on the dark surface.’
    • ‘The loud slam of the door was still resonating in her mind as the van rolled away, the left-had signal light blinking only once before turning onto the main street.’
    • ‘After a few seconds, the antenna stopped moving and another light blinked on.’
    • ‘I mean, he could be talking until morning if they didn't have a little red light blinking there on the podium.’
    • ‘There were lights flashing and monitors blinking behind them.’
    • ‘A red light began blinking and flashing in the room, and an alarm went berserk.’
    • ‘I told her I saw it enter the atmosphere and if it was a plane we'd only see lights blinking.’
    • ‘It was traveling faster than most small planes and he watched the white light blinked out.’
    • ‘They're looking for the indicator light to blink on, then off.’
    • ‘The lights blinked again before finally going out, but the candles provided the cabin with plenty of light.’
    • ‘A red light blinking in the answer machine slowly flicked on and off.’
    • ‘A small red light blinked, indicating that the water level was rapidly falling.’
    • ‘Rebus noticed that an ambulance, blue lights blinking, was parked in front of a stationary double-decker bus.’
    • ‘With most cameras the correct-focus indicator light will blink rapidly and the shutter release won't fire.’
    • ‘As they prepared to go against whatever was up ahead, the emergency lights blinked out without warning.’
    • ‘I checked the phone, and, sure enough, the little red light was blinking, indicating that there was a message.’
    • ‘You punched some buttons and a few lights blinked and in a matter of moments the computer solved a math problem.’
    flash, flicker, twinkle, waver, wink, scintillate, glint, glimmer, glitter
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  • 1An act of shutting and opening the eyes very quickly:

    ‘he was observing her every blink’
    • ‘Tying a balloon at the gate to the zoo, he catches the blink of a cashier before she rings up another fee, hungers for the moment a turtle slips into water.’
    • ‘The blue eyes closed, staying shut longer and tighter than a blink would require.’
    • ‘In a projected image of a street scene various items are removed and displaced (seemingly at random) between tenth-of-a-second artificial blinks.’
    • ‘The blinks and other movements of her eyes, the occasional smiles, the sleep-wake pattern are all typical of a vegetative condition, manifesting reflex reactions, not consciousness.’
    • ‘So far as the vehicles go, colors can be changed in what amounts to a physical blink of an eye.’
    • ‘Last night it emerged that police may seek to interview the girl even though she can only communicate using blinks and facial expressions.’
    • ‘A cat will say ‘hello’ with a slow blink, the polite cat will look away after it has blinked.’
    • ‘A couple of blinks as he looks from the man next to them to Rama and back…’
    • ‘Voters are seen as a strange and volatile lot, who could turn bad at the blink of an eye.’
    • ‘It is an eye open to the reader as it translates its complex turns, blinks, and refraction onto the page.’
    • ‘With a startled blink, Ana looked behind her to find none other then the orange pig-tailed little girl.’
    • ‘Rachel and Annette both halted and turned, Rachel giving a blink of surprise at the tall and handsome man approaching.’
    • ‘I take long blinks and rarely look at the camera's screen.’
    • ‘It is now well-known that in order to observe a blink, the first target must be masked.’
    • ‘Michael brushed his hand across his sleepy eyes and gave a heavy blink and then looked again.’
    • ‘Trials with excessive eye movements, blinks, or blockage were rejected.’
    • ‘But she watched her mother blink in surprise and take an involuntary step back away from her.’
    • ‘In a single blink, Justine had analyzed him and the situation she was in.’
    • ‘Now, with a mind that is probably as sharp as it ever was, the only movements she can make are blinks and small yawns.’
    • ‘Vicki caught his blink of shock and silently began to pray that he could help them.’
    1. 1.1 A moment's hesitation:
      ‘Feargal would have given her all this without a blink’
      • ‘She accepted the whole thing without a blink… although I can't say the same about my brother and father.’
      • ‘The film leaps from cityscapes to stages and back without a blink.’
      • ‘Without a blink she marched to the trapdoor and began the descent, doing her best not to look Jorte in the eyes.’
      • ‘If I would get the chance I would fight them tomorrow without a blink of my eye.’
      • ‘The maids were well paid, well fed, well rested, well clothed and if some emergency cropped up they were given leave without the blink of an eye.’
  • 2A momentary gleam of light:

    ‘out on the marshes there was a blink of light’
    • ‘It should come as no surprise that, when the slightest blink of yellow light came into view, I recklessly sped towards it.’
    • ‘A fluorescent light, for instance, actually blinks on and off sixty times a second, but most people perceive the light as continuous.’
    • ‘Through the veil she saw the blink of gold, the flash of a silver ring on a pale wraith's finger.’
    • ‘Yesterday we had rain, rain and more rain, a little blink of sunshine and then thick mist!’
    • ‘She gave Sasha a short blink from her light and heard the car motor start.’
    • ‘Then there it was again, a blink of light in the grass about three yards away.’
    • ‘But a blink of sunlight was a harbinger of hope for the Edinburgh team as they gradually but determinedly fought their way back into this game.’
    • ‘The car responds with a blink of its lights and a short shriek.’
    • ‘It was of similar shape as a fighter and had a flashing red light similar to passenger jet's blink.’


  • in the blink of an eye (or in a blink)

    • Very quickly:

      ‘software that would do lots of boring calculations in the blink of an eye’
      • ‘Without a care in the world, he has negotiated hairpin bends at gravity-defying angles and roared past rivals in the blink of an eye.’
      • ‘The ball began to grow and then, suddenly, in the blink of an eye, it disappeared.’
      • ‘He had come this close to death in the blink of an eye, and just as quickly it was taken away.’
      • ‘Dinner went by reasonably quickly, and in the blink of an eye, they were fast asleep, except for one.’
      • ‘At only 55 minutes, the album's twelve tracks go by in the blink of an eye.’
      • ‘Remember, women's fashion trends come and go in the blink of an eye.’
      • ‘Richard was a little shocked to see her go from shy and demure to forthright and direct in the blink of an eye.’
      • ‘He looks like a picture, frozen in time, one instant that happened in the blink of an eye, unnoticed and uncared for by the rest of the universe.’
      • ‘The canoe slides into the water in the blink of an eye and before you can say Jack Robinson it's twenty yards off shore.’
      • ‘Human freedom has already vanished from his world, in the blink of an eye.’
      immediately, at once, straight away, right away, instantaneously, suddenly, abruptly, all of a sudden, on the instant, at a stroke, forthwith, then and there, there and then, here and now, this/that, that very minute, this very minute, that instant, this instant
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  • not blink an eye

    • Show no reaction.

      • ‘He didn't blink an eye when purchasing a pair of Italian loafers for more than a thousand US dollars.’
      • ‘Our friends don't blink an eye at a $2,000 dinette set.’
      • ‘We don't blink an eye at helping the mentally retarded; the fact that many poor people are intellectually inferior only bolsters their need for assistance from the more able.’
      • ‘We don't blink an eye today when we see women doing what would once be considered jobs for the boys.’
      • ‘I don't blink an eye when we're called amateur food writers, even though many bloggers make the monthly equivalent of one small magazine article sale, if not more.’
      • ‘The point is that the character's gay but the audience doesn't blink an eye.’
      • ‘When his boss brought him the new assignment last fall, he didn't blink an eye.’
      • ‘She was grating Parmesan, and didn't blink an eye.’
      • ‘Emma, Jeff, Tina and Darcy don't blink an eye and raise their glasses along with me.’
      • ‘The man didn't blink an eye at her faux pas, however, and merely got into the car after being handed the keys and drove away.’
  • on the blink

    • informal (of a machine) not working properly; out of order:

      ‘the computer's on the blink’
      • ‘But it's the relatively trivial things which are the most maddening and frustrating - TVs conking out, ovens going on the blink, computers crashing.’
      • ‘The home air-conditioner is on the blink and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive over and tell me he needed to order parts.’
      • ‘Residents of a ‘sister’ tower block to the one where tenants have been waiting since January for lift repairs say their elevators are now on the blink.’
      • ‘It also had the effect of making visitors think their monitor was on the blink.’
      • ‘Nowadays when your solid-state, instant-on color TV goes on the blink, you phone the TV repairman for an appointment.’
      • ‘The chip fat filtering machine went on the blink and a manager decided to cut corners.’
      • ‘I opt for a full breakfast in my room - it arrives piping hot - the only hitch being that the cappuccino machine (there's one in each villa) is on the blink.’
      • ‘The traffic lights operated correctly last week but come Sunday morning they were dangerously on the blink again, changing colour with bewildering rapidity.’
      • ‘If the washing machine goes on the blink it has to be winched on to the ferry and it's gone for a fortnight.’
      • ‘In exasperation Alan finally said: ‘Either there's something wrong with your modem or your computer's on the blink.’’
      damaged, faulty, defective, unsound
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Middle English: from blenk, Scots variant of blench, reinforced by Middle Dutch blinken to shine. Early senses included ‘deceive’, ‘flinch’(compare with blench), and also ‘open the eyes after sleep’: hence blink (mid 16th century).