Idiom: On the blink

“On the blink” is applied, for example, to an appliance operating intermittently, especially one “on its last legs”, i.e. one that is about to “give up the ghost”.

“On the blink” doesn’t refer to a permanent failure. If something is on the blink, it means that it is operating erratically, that it may work fine for a bit and then not work at all, that it is somewhat temperamental, and that this behaviour is intermittent. A printer on the blink, for example, may print 20 documents perfectly and then completely screw up the next one (which, by some strange law of nature, will be the one that you really needed most), but then work fine again the next day.Once something fails completely, it ceases to be “on the blink”. It then becomes: in a state of disrepair, non-functional, broken, not working, bust, knackered, etc.

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On one’s last legs: near the end of life, usefulness, or existence
To give up the ghost: (of a machine) to stop working

Author: Graham A Stephen (UK)
Collaborator: Karin Sequen (Guatemala)

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Karin Sequen

Karin é Guatemalteca e trabalha como analista de sistemas em seu país. Participa de diversos grupos no Yahoo onde discute sobre o idioma inglês. Colabora periodicamente com o English Experts.