How did a wink come to be a flirtatious move?

Who was the person who first interpreted a wink as “hey baby” or for that matter, who first saw it as a sign of recognition?

I don’t know who first said “everyone’s a critic,” but I think it’s a really stupid saying.

You mean all this time they’ve been flirting with me? I just thought they had something stuck in their eye! No wonder my sex life’s been suffering.

Asking why a wink means flirtation is pretty much a question without an answer. You might as well ask why a shrug means “I don’t know”, or why “I don’t know” means what it does. Gestures are an adjunct to language and evolved way back in the mists of time.

Mind you, just as everybody doesn’t speak the same language, so too do gestures mean different things in different places. In North America, if you make the “Okay” sign (making a ring with your thumb and forefinger), everybody knows what it means. But in France it means almost the opposite; it means “Zero” or “No good”. I also seem to recall that in Italy it means something obscene, since the circle represents part of the female anatomy.

Why don’t you try searching for “gestures” on an internet search engine? Maybe they’ll give some alternative meanings for winking.

Come to think of it, a wink doesn’t always mean flirtation. Sometimes it means, “I’m not being serious”. And let us not forget the old “Wink, wink, nudge, nudge” of Monty Python fame.

It’s not the wink, its the expression on the face when its done.

Somebody wanted to make a subtle, but noticable gesture and somebody else caught on.

That would be Og of the cave by the twisted tree.

That would also be Og. She was pretty quick for a proto-human.

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On a side note, I’ve heard that the shrug gesture came into existence around the time of the French Revolution. It was an allusion to the Guillotine. Originally a gesture that meant something like “I don’t want to tell you, because I’m afraid I’ll get my head chopped off”, it somehow became “I don’t know”.

I could be completely pulling this outta my ass though, so please someone tell me you’ve heard the same etymology?


After careful consideration, I’ve devised an experiment.

1)Go to local bar.
2)Drink 13 beers in rapid succession.
3)Find mirror.
4)Try to blink; if both eyelids close, repeat step 2. If only one eyelid closes, proceed.
5)Find someone of the opposite sex (or the same sex, whichever dots your I’s) and repeat step 4.
6)Observe results.

I feel these conditions faithfully replicate those under which the vast majority of flirting occurs. Please post your results.

“I’m still here, asshole!”-Angus Bethune

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Cecil covered the “OK” gesture as obscene – apparently Brazil is the place. Couldn’t find it in the archives, unfortunately.

The O.K. gesture is obscene in a few parts of Italy and Greece that I know of. It is supposed to represent the anus, not the vagina.


“For what is myth, but the deconstructive prose of a missing literary critic who lisps?”
–Harry Harrison