1 : (chiefly British) to displace, remove, or evict from a position
2 : (chiefly British) to obtain or draw out by effort
Did You Know?
If you have ever extracted a winkle from its shell, then you understand how the verb winkle came to be. The word winkle is short for periwinkle, the name of a marine or freshwater snail. Periwinkle is ultimately derived from Latin pina, the name of a mussel, and Old English wincle, a snail shell. Evidently the personnel of World War I's Allied Powers found their duty of finding and removing the enemy from the trenches analogous to extracting a well-entrenched snail and began using winkle to describe their efforts. The action of "winkling the enemy out" was later extended to other situations, such as "winkling information out of someone."
"In 1483 a new English king, Richard III, tried again to winkle Henry out of Brittany, but he found that the young man was now a significant pawn on the European chessboard." — Nigel Calder, The English Channel, 1986
"The reclusive actress, 48, had been winkled out of her New Mexico ranch and flown halfway around the world only to stand there and be ignored as Amal battled with her chiffon frills and the cameras rattled like gunfire." — Jan Moir, The Daily Mail (UK), 20 May 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to create another word for a marine snail: w _ e _ k.VIEW THE ANSWER
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