twinkling of an eye: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘twinkling of an eye’ mean?

The idiom "twinkling of an eye" refers to the extremely rapid moment or passing of time, often used to indicate that something happens very quickly or instantaneously.

Idiom Explorer

Language of Sparkling Eyes

The idiom "twinkling of an eye" is a commonly used phrase in the English language. It describes something that happens very quickly or instantly. The phrase has a long history and has been in use for centuries. One of the earliest recorded instances of the phrase can be found in the Bible, specifically in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 15:52, the apostle Paul writes, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." This biblical reference suggests that the idiom has been around since at least the first century AD.

His twinkling eye mesmerized me every time.

The phrase is derived from the literal meaning of "twinkling," which refers to the rapid closing and opening of an eye. This rapid motion is often associated with surprise or astonishment. By using the term metaphorically, the idiom highlights the idea of a sudden and fleeting event. Over time, the idiom has become a popular figure of speech in various contexts. It is commonly used in literature, poetry, and everyday language to emphasize the speed or brevity of a particular action or occurrence. For example, someone might say, "The race was over in the twinkling of an eye," to convey how quickly the race ended.

Another interesting aspect of the idiom's usage is its cross-cultural presence. While the phrase is primarily used in English-speaking countries, similar idiomatic expressions exist in other languages. For instance, in French, the equivalent phrase is "en un clin d'œil," which translates to "in the blink of an eye." This linguistic parallel further reinforces the universality of the concept represented by the idiom.

The idiom "twinkling of an eye" has a rich history and is commonly employed to convey the notion of a swift and sudden occurrence. Its origins can be traced back to biblical texts, and it has since become a widely recognized figure of speech in the English language. Across various cultures, similar idiomatic expressions exist, highlighting the shared human experience of recognizing and appreciating swift moments of change.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "twinkling of an eye" can be used in a sentence are:

  • In the twinkling of an eye, she disappeared from the room.
  • The car sped past in the twinkling of an eye.
  • He won the race in the twinkling of an eye, leaving his competitors far behind.

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