late 14c., "to glitter, sparkle," probably from or related to Low German glisteren, Middle Dutch glisteren, frequentative forms ultimately from the large group of Germanic gl- words for "smooth; shining; joyful," from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine." Related: Glistered; glistering. As a noun, from 1530s.
All is not golde that glistereth [Thomas Becon, "Reliques of Rome," 1563]
1580s, "nictitate, wink rapidly and repeatedly," perhaps from Middle Dutch blinken "to glitter," which is of uncertain origin, possibly, along with German blinken "to gleam, sparkle, twinkle," from a nasalized form of base found in Old English blican "to shine, glitter" (from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn").
Middle English had blynke (c. 1300) in the sense "a brief gleam or spark," perhaps a variant of blench "to move suddenly or sharply; to raise one's eyelids" (c. 1200), perhaps from the rare Old English blencan "deceive."
The word existed originally with a vague and shifting set of meanings, many now obsolete, having to do with motion of the eyes; in earlier use "the notion of 'glancing' predominates; in the latter, that of 'winking'" [OED].
Blink as "to wink" is attested by 1761. The meaning "cast a sudden, fleeting light" is from 1786; that of "shut the eyes momentarily and involuntarily" is from 1858. Related: Blinked; blinking. The last, as a euphemism for a stronger adjective, is attested by 1914.
1590s, "a glance," a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from a continental Germanic language; see blink (v.). As with the verb, there is a similar noun in Middle English, from c. 1300, that might represent a native form of the same root. The meaning "action of blinking" is from 1924. From the otherwise archaic sense of "a flicker, a spark," comes on the blink "nearly extinguished," hence "not functioning" (1901).
"sparkling," 1836, from Late Latin micāre "to shine, sparkle, flash, glitter, quiver," from PIE *mik-(e)ie- "to blink" (source also of Czech mikati "to move abruptly," Upper Sorbian mikac "to blink").
"to wink," 1822, from Medieval Latin nictitatus, past participle of nictitare, frequentative of Latin nictare "wink, blink, signal with the eyes," related to nicere "to beckon," from PIE root *kneigwh- "to blink, to draw together (the eyes or eyelids)," source also of Gothic hniewan, Old High German nigan "to bow, be inclined." Related: Nictitated; nictitating (1713). Earlier form was nictate (v.), 1690s, from Latin nictare.
"the act of winking," 1620s, from Latin nictationem (nominative nictatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of nictare "to wink, blink" (see nictitate). Alternative form nictitation is from 1784.
"the first part of the day, the morning," late 14c., contracted from Middle English morwen, morghen, from Old English (Mercian) margen (dative marne), earlier morgen (dative morgne) "morning, forenoon, sunrise," from Proto-Germanic *murgana- "morning" (source also of Old Saxon morgan, Old Frisian morgen, Middle Dutch morghen, Dutch morgen, Old High German morgan, German Morgen, Gothic maurgins), from PIE *merk-, perhaps from root *mer- "to blink, twinkle" (source of Lithuanian mirgėti "to blink"). By late 19c. relegated to poetry.
Old English twinclian "to twinkle, wink," frequentative of twincan "to wink, blink," with -el (3). Twincan is related to Middle High German zwinken, German zwinkern, and probably somehow imitative. Related: Twinkled; twinkling. The noun is recorded from 1540s. Phrase in the twinkling of an eye "in a very brief time" is attested from c. 1300.