1 [wins]
verb (used without object), winced, wincing.
to draw back or tense the body, as from pain or from a blow; start; flinch.
a wincing or shrinking movement; a slight start.

1250–1300; Middle English winsen, variant of winchen, wenchen to kick < Anglo-French *wenc(h)ier; Old French guenc(h)ier < Germanic. Cf. wench, winch1

wincer, noun
wincingly, adverb
wincingness, noun

1. blench, quail. Wince, recoil, shrink, quail all mean to draw back from what is dangerous, fearsome, difficult, threatening, or unpleasant. Wince suggests an involuntary contraction of the facial features triggered by pain, embarrassment, or a sense of revulsion: to wince as a needle pierces the skin; to wince at coarse language. Recoil denotes a physical movement away from something disgusting or shocking or a similar psychological shutting out or avoidance: to recoil from contact with a slimy surface; to recoil at the squalor and misery of the slum. Shrink may imply a fastidious or scrupulous avoidance of the distasteful or it may suggest cowardly withdrawal from what is feared: to shrink from confessing a crime; to shrink from going into battle. Quail suggests a loss of heart or courage in the face of danger or difficulty; it sometimes suggests trembling or other manifestations of physical disturbance: to quail before an angry mob. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
wince1 (wɪns)
1.  (intr) to start slightly, as with sudden pain; flinch
2.  the act of wincing
[C18 (earlier (C13) meaning: to kick): via Old French wencier, guenchir to avoid, from Germanic; compare Old Saxon wenkian, Old High German wenken]

wince2 (wɪns)
a roller for transferring pieces of cloth between dyeing vats
[C17: variant of winch]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., winch, probably from O.N.Fr. *wenchier (in O.Fr. guenchir "to turn aside, avoid"), from Frankish *wenkjan (cf. O.H.G. wankon "to stagger, totter," O.N. vakka "to stray, hover"). Originally of horses. Modern form is attested from late 13c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Half of the chorus could bo watched without wincing, but the other half was as frowsy as a shredded wheat biscuit.
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