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When you say someone has nodded in agreement it is meant that they are lowering and raising their head to signify their agreeance without needing to say anything.

There is a more subtle version of this, quite common in film, where Character A is asked a question and Character B responds by essentially blinking in agreement or by nodding with their eyes/eyelids. They do not move their head, and they may say something, but usually when they don't it used to deliberately not make it 100% clear to the audience what Character B's intentions are. I can't think of a specific example but I have seen it especially in high tension situations when a group of characters are trying to determine what side of the fence each person is, or during interrogation scenes.

Example 1 (bold part is what needs replacing):

After the meeting, Paul walks straight up to John, deliberately menacing.

"So I hear that you're going to fire Tom?" demands Paul.

John nods with his eyes, wary of the attention from the other colleagues in the room.

"Was that a yes then?"

John nods with his eyes again, "We should talk about this privately, Paul. So we don't disturb the other workers."

"You really are a coward John!"

Example 2 (bold part is what needs replacing):

"Paul, were you or were you not at the suspects house 2 nights ago?" asks Officer John.

Paul nods with his eyes.

"Was that a yes? Please verbally confirm for the audio recording."

Paul again nods with his eyes, answering John but not letting his answer be recorded.

"Dammit, you answer me Paul!"

  • I have never observed anybody doing this—if nodding with your eyes means moving your eyes up and down. It simply doesn't happen. (In my experience, anyway.) – Jason Bassford May 4 at 7:54
  • As Chappo has pointed out below, it is like a blink. It is subtle but once you look out for it you will pick it up in film all over the place. – FrontEnd May 4 at 9:53
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    A blink is something completely different from a nod. They aren't the same thing at all. You already use the word blink several times in your question, so I don't see how that can be the answer. And if you are using nod in some fashion that isn't its standard usage, you should describe what you mean by it. Or simply not use either of those words—but say what the action actually is. Or, better yet, provide a link to a video clip. – Jason Bassford May 4 at 9:59
  • Think of it this way, when you nod once the head moves down and then back up. When you blink once, the eyelids move down and then back up. So the same movement. Have a look here at how many of these nods blink slowly at the same time the head moves down: giphy.com/explore/agree This is probably a great single example: giphy.com/gifs/agree-v0fIrJY4XeJNK Now image the blink without the nod and bingo. – FrontEnd May 4 at 10:06
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    There are now three votes to close this question, but I think this is misguided. Is there a single word that describes the action of indicating agreement using facial expression but not head movement? I think this is a valid question, I have no trouble in understanding that this is what is being asked, and my own research suggests the answer is not easily found using standard resources. My own answer is that there is not a single word to describe this. Our consideration should be: does this question and its answer provide a useful contribution, both to EL&U and the broader internet base? – Chappo May 6 at 2:34
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I think you'll find that in most cases, a person would find "blinking in agreement or by nodding with their eyes/eyelids" quite hard to interpret as a definite yes or no. It's not surprising, therefore, that we don't have a single word for it.

However, your description of "nodding with their eyes/eyelids" sounds like a wink. A wink can certainly be used to indicate "you're in on my secret", and would commonly be accompanied by the subtlest of nods as indication of unspoken agreement.

wink
VERB [NO OBJECT]

  1. Close and open one eye quickly, typically to indicate that something is a joke or a secret or as a signal of affection or greeting.

    • ‘‘She seems very keen,’ Neil says and winks at me.’
    • ‘Melayn nodded and winked ever so slightly at Hazel before closing her eyes.’

NOUN

An act of winking.

  • ‘Barney gave him a knowing wink’
  • ‘My facial expression and a wink says it all for me.’
  • ‘Indeed, such is the power of gesture that a wink or a sarcastic intonation inevitably reframes and inverts the ‘literal’ meaning.’
  • ‘A wink of an eye is a gesture coded with multiple meanings; it also seems to be the easiest bodily sign to simulate through animation.’

[Source: Oxford Dictionaries]

As might be obvious from some of the above examples, a wink is ambiguous in the absence of the tiny nod or other signal to confirm intent. It might instead mean (or be interpreted as) "don't believe me, I'm being duplicitous", or even "beware, it's dangerous". In other words, a wink might not indicate agreement, or conversely it might indeed indicate agreement but might not be interpreted that way. Context, knowledge of the other person and body language are everything here!

  • You've got it Chappo, that is very helpful advice. It is actually a blink not a wink. I suppose the main difference here though is that a normal blink is quite fast, whereas this action is like a blink but slower if that makes sense. It is also quite common for actors to blink once, slowly during a nod at the same time as their head is moving. It is quite subtle I suppose, especially for someone who isn't conscious of it or doesn't do it themselves, but it does actually add quite a bit of emphasis to the "gesture" for the audience. – FrontEnd May 4 at 9:50

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