Off Topic: Winking and it's Meanings

Google winking, wink meaning or winking and body language and a vast array of sites will come up, each with a list of meanings. Some of them also noted the old expression a wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse, which I think is true. Winking, or the action of looking at another person and deliberately closing one eye can have a variety of meanings. In some cultures it is a friendly gesture, in others it is sexual and in some parts of the world winking can be considered vulgar. In my own life, I have been on the receiving end of winks that felt like everything from comradeship to sexual harassment. For the purposes of this article, I'm going to explore the variety of winks and meanings ...

Styles of Winking

Apparently, there is more than one way to wink. People usually wink with their dominant eye--for example if the left eye is dominant, that person will always wink with their left eye--or winking may be sometimes done with both eyes. (I have yet to see anyone do that.)

Another varient of the wink is the 'clink' which is basically a wink that is accompanied by a perfectly timed click of the tongue. (I'm a bit of a fan of this kind of wink. The clicking and obviousness of it all makes it fun.)

While researching this article I was also surprised to discover that in North America there is a style of winking that involves not only the wink itself, but a click of the tongue and pointing ones thumb, index and middle fingers like a gun. (I'm not sure how popular this gesture is.)

Then, of course, there is the famous Monty Python sketch where the spoken words Wink, wink, nudge, nudge accompany the appropriate gesture ...


Winking can have a variety of meanings, most of which depend on who is the sender and who is the receiver of a wink. Here are a few common ones:

Shared Knowledge
This kind of wink is normally done to convey shared knowledge between two people, usually at the exclusion of others. For example Person A might play a prank on person B and then wink at Person C to let them in on the joke. Some Doctor Who fans might note that during the opening credits the seventh doctor would look at the camera and wink. The meaning for this one is clear. The doctor is letting viewers in to his secret world for a little while ...
This is usually done to give someone silent encouragement--a way of saying, yes, you can do this!
In some instances a wink can be a very quick way of saying 'thank you' or 'well done'.  
It's basically a way of saying, I find you attractive. Sometimes a wink while flirting can really just mean, I'm doing this in fun and hope that you had fun too. In other words the winker doesn't want the flirting to be taken seriously. It's all just in fun.
 Sexual Attraction
Winking can also be a way of someone to express their sexual interest in another person, particularly if partnered with sexual words or touch. This is sometimes where sexual harassment can come into play--if the winking is inappropriate, or if the winker can (or reasonably should,) be able to tell, that the other person is uncomfortable but continues with the behaviour.
Personally, my favourite style of winking is the 'clink' because it is one of the more fun ways to wink. Clinking is usually done to show comfort, satisfaction or when somebody flirts.

And, finally, I cannot resist ending this post with this awesome clip that I found on YouTube:


CeCe said…
Great post! I think when I wink it usually signals that I have some sort of facial tick because I am not very skilled in the winking department. It usually consists of me closing both eyes and sort of opening one faster than the other. I try to be sexy at the bar but come off looking like I need some visine.
CeCe @
Kathryn White said…
Lol, thank you CeCe.

I had an infection in my dominent eye a few years ago and the eyelid remained a little swollen. I can still wink, but the result is more comical than sexy.
Unknown said…
I started winking through this entire post, just to work out what kind of 'winker' I actually was.
Turns out I'm a 'clinker'!
Who'd have thunk it?
Kathryn White said…
Hee-hee! I admit, I winked a few times while writing.
Fascinating post, Kathryn. Body language and non-verbal communication is something that really interests me, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading your "winking thinking" ;-)

FWIW, I can wink with either eye, but I'm far more comfortable winking with my right than my left. I *think* I'm right-eye dominant (although I know I'm quite astigmatic in my left, which may mean I've become right-eye dominant to compensate - I'm quite strongly left-handed too)

Thanks for sharing the information :-)



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