"a quick shutting and opening of the eyes," c. 1300, from wink (v.); meaning "very brief moment of time" is attested from 1580s.
Old English wincian "to blink, wink, close one's eyes quickly," from Proto-Germanic *wink- (source also of Dutch winken, Old High German winkan "move sideways, stagger; nod," German winken "to wave, wink"), a gradational variant of the root of Old High German wankon "to stagger, totter," Old Norse vakka "to stray, hover," from PIE root *weng- "to bend, curve." The meaning "close an eye as a hint or signal" is first recorded c. 1100; that of "close one's eyes (to fault or irregularity)" first attested late 15c. Related: Winked; winking.
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