1

I did not find any results to my liking on google or on English SE.

What does the term "wouldn't blink twice" mean when used in a sentence as follow:

"If I saw [person's name] walking down the street I wouldn't blink twice." or

"If [person's name] walked in late today I wouldn't blink twice."

Also, (bonus?)

What does the term mean literally? I'm not sure how it means what it sounds like it does contextually. Is there history on it's origin?

I don't want to make more questions about the same phrase, sounded like a waste.

Thank you all!

  • The phrase in context means something like saying "it wouldn't surprise me". But I am looking for much more detailed answers. – Josh Nov 12 '14 at 3:29
  • "What does the term mean literally?" That he would not blink twice. "how it means what it sounds like it does contextually" Blinking is a common symptom of being surprised; therefore if there is insufficient blinking, surprise is probably not going on. Similar to "Where there's smoke, there's fire" in reverse. "looking for much more detailed answers" Why? What specifically is unclear? – Amadan Nov 12 '14 at 3:49
  • It looks like a kind of trope. Not yet officially an idiom but found all over the place of late. – Kris Nov 12 '14 at 5:37
3

The phrase “wouldn't blink twice” sounds to me like a conflation of a “wouldn't blink” idiom with a “wouldn't think twice” idiom.

“Wouldn't blink”, in forms like “wouldn't blink an eye” and “wouldn't bat an eye/eyelash/eyelid” connote not reacting or responding, ie, failing to show surprise.

“Wouldn't think twice” means not having to give something a second thought; ie, not having to reconsider something, because it is so obvious or clear in the first place.

Edit: Following on from Sven Yargs' comment, some Google ngrams results may be of interest. First, a few caveats:

• Google ngrams records the 't parts of contractions wouldn't and didn't as separate elements. A search for ' t is satisfied by wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't, didn't, don't, etc.
• Near the end of Google's ngrams info page, it says “we only consider ngrams that occur in at least 40 books”.
• Books linked below the graph mentioned below include a few dozen results for ' t blink twice even though a page label says there was only one result.

With those caveats understood, the general trend according to the Google ngrams graph for ' t blink,' t think twice,' t blink twice, is that overall frequency of ' t blink is about the same as that of ' t think twice; both forms have been occurring since the early 1800's; each occurs several thousand times as frequently as ' t blink twice. That is, ' t blink twice negative contractions are significantly uncommon (a few dozen occurrences, most within the past 25 years) compared to ' t blink or ' t think twice negative contractions.

  • 1
    I agree that "wouldn't blink twice" seems to mix elements of the earlier phrases "wouldn't think twice" and "wouldn't blink at [doing X]." A Google Books search for "wouldn't blink twice" draws about two dozen matches, the earliest one being a book published in 1986; a comparable search for "wouldn't think twice" yields 15 matches for the period between 1968 and 1986, including appearances in novels by Margaret Drabble (1969) and Graham Greene (1978); and a search for "wouldn't blink at [doing X]" yields matches dating to 1971. Bob Dylan's song "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is from 1963. – Sven Yargs Nov 12 '14 at 7:01
  • @SvenYargs, I added an ngrams link – James Waldby - jwpat7 Nov 12 '14 at 8:20
  • I do not read a lot of books but I do read some, it didn't cross my mind to search Google books. (I do a ton of reading, but it's self teaching of programming, science, news, etc) – Josh Nov 13 '14 at 3:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.