Today’s (October 16) New York Times reported that “Congressional Republican leaders conceded defeat Wednesday in their budget fight with President Obama over the new health care law.” under the headline, “At 11th Hour, G.O P. Blinks in Standoff,” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/17/us/congress-budget-debate.html?hp&_r=0

As I am unfamiliar with the usage of “blink” adopted in the way of the above caption, I checked Cambridge, Oxford and Merriam Webster online dictionaries to get used to it.

CED defines ‘blink’ as a verb;

1.When you blink, you close and then open your eyes quickly once or several times, and when an eye blinks, it does this:

2.If a light blinks, it flashes on and off.

OED defines‘blink’ as a verb;

1.Shut and open the eyes quickly:

2 (of a light) flash on and off in a regular or intermittent way:

Merriam Webster defines it likewise:

1.to close and then open your eyes very quickly

2 to shine with a light that goes on and off

None of the definitions of the above dictionaries seem to me to be very fitting to “blink” in “G.O P. blinks in standoff.”

I think the word in the above caption is used figuratively, perhaps to mean ‘flinched / recoiled’, but I’m not sure.

What does “blink” in “G.O P. blinks in standoff” exactly mean?


FYI. Today’s (Oct 17) New York Times followed up the above article by rephrasing “blimp” with "back down" in the following headline:

"Shutdown ends; Debt limit rises. G.O.P. backs down after 16-day standoff.”

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    It's a reference to a phrase which is best summed up in a famous letter. To say the Republicans blinked is to say they lost. Oct 16, 2013 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


A staring contest (or blinking contest) is a game in which two people stare into each other's eyes and attempt to maintain eye contact for a longer period than their opponent. The game ends when one participant blinks or looks away.

(Wikipedia, 'Staring'.)

So the Republicans were the first to flinch in the schoolyard game the American government has been reduced to recently.


During the Cuban Missile Crisis, ""In the American view, Kennedy and Khrushchev had gone eye to eye," Gjelten says. "And Khrushchev blinked."

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