twinkle

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in the twinkle of an eye

Immediately; very quickly; at once. (A variant of the more common "in the twinkling of an eye.") Just call us on this number if you have any problems, and we'll be back in the twinkle of an eye. Don't worry, boss, I'll have this report typed up in the twinkle of an eye!
See also: eye, of, twinkle

twinkle in (one's) eye

1. A facial expression that denotes happiness, amusement, or knowledge of a secret. Just when Rita thought all hope was lost, Jared got a twinkle in his eye that told her he had a plan to get them both out of that sticky situation.
2. A hope or plan that is not yet in existence. You were not even a twinkle in your mother's eye when that photo was taken.
See also: eye, twinkle

twinkle with something

[for someone's eyes] to sparkle because of something. Her eyes twinkled with laughter. Tom's eyes twinkled with recognition when he saw Gwen again.
See also: twinkle

when somebody was a (mere) twinkle in their father's eye

  (humorous)
at a time before someone was born All this happened a very long time ago, when you were a mere twinkle in your father's eye.
See also: eye, twinkle
References in classic literature ?
By degrees, as they could bear no more, they dropped off one by one, and lights twinkled in little casements; which lights, as the casements darkened, and more stars came out, seemed to have shot up into the sky instead of having been extinguished.
The old-fashioned brass knocker on the low arched door, ornamented with carved garlands of fruit and flowers, twinkled like a star; the two stone steps descending to the door were as white as if they had been covered with fair linen; and all the angles and corners, and carvings and mouldings, and quaint little panes of glass, and quainter little windows, though as old as the hills, were as pure as any snow that ever fell upon the hills.
But they twinkled out one by one, without throwing any light on the questions why on earth I was going to play at Miss Havisham's, and what on earth I was expected to play at.
The farrier leaned forward with his hands on his knees as he put this question, and his eyes twinkled knowingly.
His eyes were small, and twinkled unceasingly like little stars, and his look was very wild, for now and again he grinned, showing his white teeth.
All thanks, Little Brother," said Kaa, though his eyes twinkled.
The moonbeams twinkled on the carving knife and the pie dish, and made a path of brightness across the dirty floor.
We all followed his movements with our eyes, for undoubtedly some nervousness was growing on us, and we saw a whole mass of phosphorescence, which twinkled like stars.
His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated.
The stars twinkled in the heavens, like the last glimmerings of distant fire, so much were they obscured by the overwhelming radiance of the atmosphere; the rays from the moon striking upon the smooth, white surfaces of the lake and fields, reflecting upward a light that was brightened by the spotless color of the immense bodies of snow which covered the earth.