Definition of winkle in English:

winkle

noun

  • 1A small herbivorous shore-dwelling mollusc with a spiral shell.

    Also called periwinkle
    • ‘Periwinkles, or winkles as their vendors commonly call them, are now eaten much more in Europe than America, although the middens of American Indians testify to their use there in the past.’
    • ‘Hundreds of 9th century winkle shells were found in the cliff face, along with fish bones, charred grain and butchered animal bones, providing evidence of the mundane diet of the Anglo-Saxon population.’
    • ‘Although there are many winkles on Breydon, I have never seen the oystercatcher take them.’
    • ‘Anyway, recently the children asked to try some whelks and winkles, which were so vinegary they'd lost all their flavour, and then Megan asked to try the crab.’
    • ‘Huge oysters, terrifyingly substantial octopus tentacles, lightly curried saffron prawns and lobster, crayfish and crab meat, cod fillet and winkles.’
    • ‘We had to pick out the winkles, rockfish and tiny crabs.’
    • ‘At Kircubbin Bay, people were out at low tide with their rakes, collecting cockles and winkles.’
    • ‘In spring and summer we would pick mussels, cockles and winkles round the ‘glar’ or silt mud in the harbour.’
    • ‘Most Scottish rock pools are full of winkles, their round olive-green or brown shells as easy to pick as daisies on a lawn.’
    • ‘I boiled the winkles and steamed the potatoes as quickly as I could.’
    • ‘The sand was dotted with saucer - sized jellyfish, rocks and pools are squidgy with jelly buttons encrusted with limpets, barnacles and winkles and are seedbeds for mussels.’
    • ‘The gang spent several hours using quad bikes to speed along the seabed at low water as the rest filled hundreds of sacks of the winkles to load into waiting vans.’
    • ‘Shellfish such as oysters, mussels, cockles, winkles, whelks and crabs were collected for food from the estuaries and sea-shores.’
    • ‘When I lived here twenty-odd years ago, I had almost no money and gathered mussels for my soup-pot, nettles, pried the meat out of winkles with a pin.’
    • ‘They will be often be observed eating mussels from both reef and wreckage and also seem to favour winkles, which they pick delicately from kelp fronds before spitting out the remains of the shell.’
    • ‘Other combinations include pasta with winkles, Yorkshire pudding stuffed with Italian cured meat, and sanguinaccio con cipole (that's black pudding with onions to you).’
  • 2informal A child's term for a penis.

    • ‘One of my favourite snapshots of my son shows him running around, winkle to the wind, naked as the day he was born.’
    • ‘So you see, when I dozed off in my garden chair in the middle of a fascinating discussion with my son about which animals have winkles and which don't, I was in very good company.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]winkle something out
British
  • Extract or obtain something with difficulty.

    ‘I swore I wasn't going to tell her, but she winkled it all out of me’
    • ‘An extensive examination of the issue by someone who knows how to winkle info out of the DA.’
    • ‘It's clear water conditions or a fining down river for me - but then, I have managed to winkle out the odd pike in just about any condition a river can throw up, so never write off your chances.’
    • ‘If necessary, they'll read between the lines to winkle it out.’
    • ‘You have to try and winkle out a buyer in this country or from abroad who is really intent on buying - not any old castle - but this one.’
    • ‘Even the umpire (one of the opposition team) said ‘it takes an older bowler with experience to winkle out these openers - why didn't they use you earlier?’’
    • ‘Certainly, information has been difficult to winkle out, apart from the official face of the MAFF website, and there has been the nagging suspicion that something has been kept from us.’
    • ‘In the end, Jess found some kind of redemption, working her way out of the shadow of rejection, hanging on to her decency and innate goodness, while managing to winkle out elements long submerged in her personality.’
    • ‘And after all, there is something to be said for taking time to winkle out the trail's secrets.’
    • ‘Warne is closer to Steve's twin, Mark, and he has not always agreed with the captain - but you will not winkle an ounce of dissent out of him.’
    • ‘When you know how many there are in the lake, you would think that an experienced angler would be able to winkle out a few trout, but we had found it tough.’
    • ‘Blackpool failed to mount a serious run-chase in reply but Netherfield could not winkle out the last two wickets for a victory as the visitors finished on 143-8.’
    • ‘Where Bintley probes psychology lightly, McCabe seems to burrow, and winkle out hidden layers.’
    • ‘His relentless search to winkle out the new and a youthful ability to keep his ear to the ground is to be taken seriously.’
    • ‘The Television Licensing Authority seems to be admitting defeat in the quest to winkle out viewers illegally watching TV programs on their computers in the UK.’
    • ‘Julio went quiet in the elevator and I finally winkled it out of him - he's wondering how long we've got provisions for.’
    • ‘The viewer is enticed by the deliberate placement of phrases, formulas, and other elements to try to winkle out the connections.’
    • ‘He realises the paramount importance of getting all the facts into the public domain before the press winkle them out.’
    • ‘Now Australia must winkle out the remaining three wickets for as few runs as possible before it's the turn of our own out-of-sorts batsmen to collectively show the grit required to post a decent first innings lead.’
    • ‘If England can just winkle one more out tonight they will be firmly in charge.’
    • ‘He'll also show you how it's done, and even in the depths of winter, Dave can usually winkle out a rainbow trout or two using the more delicate techniques.’
    worm out, prise out, dig out, extract with difficulty, draw out
    force out, dislodge, displace, remove, evict, uproot
    View synonyms

Origin

Late 16th century: shortening of periwinkle.

Pronunciation

winkle

/ˈwɪŋk(ə)l/