A Dictionary of the English Language
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Wink (verb)

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To Wink. v.n. [winctan, Saxon; wincken, Dutch.]

  1. To shut the eyes.

    Let's see thine eyes; wink now, now open them:
    In my opinion, yet, thou see'st not well.
    Shak. Hen. VI.

    They're fairies; he that speaks to them shall die:
    I'll wink and couch; no man their sports must eye.

                His false cunning
    Taught him to face me out of his acquaintance,
    And grew a twenty years removed thing,
    While one would wink.
    Shakes. Twelfth Night.

            He with great imagination,
    Proper to madmen, led his pow'rs to death,
    And, winking, leap'd into destruction.
    Shakes. H. IV.

    In despite of all this, he runs foolishly into his sin and ruin, merely because he winks hard, and rushes violently like a horse into the battle. Taylor.

    The Scripture represents wicked men as without understanding; not that they are destitute of the natural faculty: they are not blind, but they wink. Tillotson.

    If any about them should make them think there is any difference between being in the dark and winking, get it out of their minds. Locke.

  2. To hint, or direct by the motion of the eyelids.

    You saw my master wink and laugh upon you. Shakesp.

    Send him a spoon when he wants a knife: wink at the footman to leave him without a plate. Swift.

  3. To close and exclude the light.

    While Hermes pip'd and sung, and told his tale,
    The keeper's winking eyes began to fail,
    And drowsy slumber on the lids to creep,
    'Till all the watchman was at length asleep.

            When you shoot, and shut one eye,
    You cannot think he would deny
    To lend the t'other friendly aid,
    Or wink, as coward, and afraid.

  4. To connive; to seem not to see; to tolerate.

    They be better content with one that will wink at their faults, than with him that will reprove them. Whitgifte.

    I, for winking at your discords too,
    Have lost a brace of kinsmen.
    Shak. Romeo and Juliet.

    Let not night see my black and deep desires;
    The eye wink at the hand!
    Shakesp. Macbeth.

    The king gave him great gifts, and winked at the great spoil of Bosworth-field, which came almost wholly to this man's hands. Bacon's Henry VII.

    Let us not write at a loose rambling rate,
    In hope the world will wink at all our faults.

    Some faults of course with childhood end;
    We therefore wink at wags, when they offend,
    And spare the boy, in hopes the man may mend.

    Obstinacy cannot be winked at, but must be subdued. Locke.

    Cato is stern, and awful as a god:
    He knows not how to wink at human frailty,
    Or pardon weakness that he never felt.
    Addison's Cato.

  5. To be dim.

    The sullen tyrant slept not all the night,
    But, lonely walking by a winking light,
    Sobb'd, wept and groan'd, and beat his wither'd breast.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Dillon, Wentworth (Roscommon) (31) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (72) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2 (49) · Locke, John (269) · Shakespeare's Macbeth (136) · Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor (95) · Prior, Matthew (162) · Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (46) · Swift, Jonathan (306) · Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew (71) · Taylor, Jeremy (57) · Tillotson, John (68) · Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (36) · Whitgift, John (6)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Wink (verb)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: February 10, 2013. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/wink-verb/.

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