Definition of nictate in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈniktāt/
(also nictitate /ˈniktiˌtāt/)


[no object] technical
(Especially of the eyelid) blink.
Example sentences
  • They swam round looking the business and the feeder was able to grab the slower ones, which lay still while they were stroked, nictitating their eyelids as they did so.
  • His eyes nictitated to protect his eyes from the seemingly blinding brand, and his resultant hiss echoed off the earthen walls once again.
  • This intends that there is no readjusting of the lenses back to their normal contour, and consequently the vision rests somewhat clearer than with soft contact lenses that permit the optic to change centering slightly when the optic nictitates and then have to recover its original centering.


Late 17th century: from Latin nictat- 'blinked', from the verb nictare. The variant nictitate is from the medieval Latin frequentative of nictare.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: nic·tate

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.