What does the idiom "on the blink" mean?

on the blink is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression on the blink is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "on the blink"


The phrase “on the blink” is an informal idiom used to describe an item that does not function as it should, normally due to mechanical or electrical fault. A more common phrase for this is to say something is “broken”. The “blink” refers to a light that is flashing, implying that the item is not in working condition.


The phrase “on the blink” is believed to have originated in the early 20th century. The exact origin of the phrase is unclear, however it is widely accepted that it may have derived from the phrase “blinking light” or “blinking signal”, which was used to describe an electric or mechanical fault in an apparatus. The first use of the phrase “on the blink” was in the 1920s, in an American newspaper.


The phrase “on the blink” can be used to describe any broken or malfunctioning item, including electrical items such as computers, televisions and phones, as well as mechanical items such as cars and machines. It can also be used to describe a person’s mental or emotional state, indicating that they are not functioning properly.

Example Sentences

  • My phone is on the blink again, I think I'm going to have to get a new one.
  • The machine is on the blink, so I can't get my work done.
  • I think something's wrong with John, he's been a bit on the blink recently.

The meanings of the words in the "on the blink" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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