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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ All that has passed has, in the pattern of the old grandmother-tales, taken but a twinkling.
▪ But in the supernatural universe the Great Battle was won in the twinkling of an eye.
▪ But stop pushing me, stop expecting me to change in the twinkling of an eye.
▪ In the twinkling of an eye they were safe inside with their friends.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Twinkling \Twin"kling\, n.

  1. The act of one who, or of that which, twinkles; a quick movement of the eye; a wink; a twinkle.

  2. A shining with intermitted light; a scintillation; a sparkling; as, the twinkling of the stars.

  3. The time of a wink; a moment; an instant.

    In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, . . . the dead shall be raised incorruptible.
    --1 Cor. xv. 52.


Twinkle \Twin"kle\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Twinkled; p. pr. & vb. n. Twinkling.] [OE. twinklen, AS. twinclian; akin to OE. twinken to blink, wink, G. zwinken, zwinkern, and perhaps to E. twitch.]

  1. To open and shut the eye rapidly; to blink; to wink.

    The owl fell a moping and twinkling.
    --L' Estrange.

  2. To shine with an intermitted or a broken, quavering light; to flash at intervals; to sparkle; to scintillate.

    These stars not twinkle when viewed through telescopes that have large apertures.
    --Sir I. Newton.

    The western sky twinkled with stars.
    --Sir W. Scott.

  1. sparkling intermittently. n. 1 A shining with fast intermittent light. 2 The time it takes to blink the eyes. v

  2. (present participle of twinkle English)

  1. adj. shining intermittently with a sparkling light; "twinkling stars" [syn: twinkling(a)]

  2. n. a very short time (as the time it takes the eye blink or the heart to beat); "if I had the chance I'd do it in a flash" [syn: blink of an eye, flash, heartbeat, instant, jiffy, split second, trice, wink, New York minute]


Twinkling, or scintillation, is a generic term for variations in apparent brightness or position of a distant luminous object viewed through a medium. If the object lies outside the Earth's atmosphere, as in the case of stars and planets, the phenomenon is termed astronomical scintillation; within the atmosphere, the phenomenon is termed terrestrial scintillation. As one of the three principal factors governing astronomical seeing, atmospheric twinkling is defined as variations in illuminance only.

In simple terms, twinkling of stars is caused by the passing of light through different layers of a turbulent atmosphere. Most scintillation effects are caused by anomalous refraction caused by small-scale fluctuations in air density usually related to temperature gradients. Scintillation effects are always much more pronounced near the horizon than near the zenith (straight up), since the light near the horizon passes through a thicker layer of atmosphere. Atmospheric twinkling is measured quantitatively using a scintillometer. The effects of twinkling are reduced by using a larger receiver aperture. This effect is known as aperture averaging.

While light from planets, stars and other astronomical objects are likely to twinkle, twinkling does not cause images of planets to flicker appreciably.

Stars twinkle because they are so far from Earth that they appear as point sources of light easily disturbed by Earth's atmospheric turbulence which acts like lenses and prisms diverting the light's path. Large astronomical objects closer to Earth, like the Moon and other planets, encompass many points in space and can be resolved as objects with observable diameters. With multiple observed points of light traversing the atmosphere, their light's deviations average out and the viewer perceives less variation in light coming from them.

Usage examples of "twinkling".

In the twinkling of an eye she was undressed and in the arms of her little wife, whom she proceeded to treat as an amorous husband.

Cassandra said, fixing Auger with an expressionless stare from within her aura of twinkling machines.

Line after line, and rank after rank, they choked the neck of the valley with a long vista of tossing pennons, twinkling lances, waving plumes and streaming banderoles, while the curvets and gambades of the chargers lent a constant motion and shimmer to the glittering, many-colored mass.

His long raven hair was tied back with a beaded red headband, his muscular thighs concealed by the fringed leather leggings, his biceps accented by the twin silver bracelets with the twinkling turquoise stones.

Van with a show of great indignation, shook the little wrist he held, while twinkling drolly at Ada on his other side.

Sarah started slightly when a little dumpy woman with grey hair and twinkling eyes stepped noiselessly into the kitchen from the front-room.

The aiming gun swung from Durand and centered on The Shadow, all in a twinkling.

By the time Petra had explained her Miss Fane was making her entrance, very fine indeed in ruby velvet with the twinkling earrings, and a great ruby and diamond jewel at her breast.

The flute began to gurgle anew, like a drinking spout in spring-time, and away we went, faster and faster each minute, the boys and girls swinging themselves in time to the tune, and capering presently till their tender feet were twinkling over the ground in gay confusion.

Presently I saw those mystic, twinkling feet of hers--as the dance became swifter--were performing a measured round amongst the planet signs--spelling out something, I knew not what, with quick, light touch amongst the zodiac figures, dancing out a soundless invocation of some kind as a dumb man might spell a message by touching letters.

This was a messy Eater, gobbling up satellites and leaving twinkling motes.

With tense eagerness he searched the tree-tops below him, and exhaled a gusty sigh when he caught the glint of marble domes amidst the twinkling green.

The one good eye of Gys had a queer way of twinkling when he was amused.

I unlaced her corset, and in the twinkling of an eye I had before me such a siren as one sees on the canvas of Correggio.

All over the Earth, and through the rest of the Occupied system, humans had watched the twinkling icosahedron with a mixture of fascination and dread.