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[wench] /wɛntʃ/
a country lass or working girl:
The milkmaid was a healthy wench.
Usually Facetious. a girl or young woman.
Archaic. a strumpet.
verb (used without object)
to associate, especially habitually, with promiscuous women.
Origin of wench
1250-1300; Middle English, back formation from wenchel, Old English wencel child, akin to wancol tottering, said of a child learning to walk; akin to German wankeln to totter
Related forms
wencher, noun
Can be confused
wench, winch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wench
Historical Examples
  • Why, the wench being cut short of marketing by word of mouth, desired me to write proposals.

    The Heiress; John Burgoyne
  • Oh, what sport will be here, if I can persuade this wench to secrecy!

  • Frieda and Jean were treating this Indian wench like a sister, and a stop had to be put to their nonsense.

    The Ranch Girls at Rainbow Lodge Margaret Vandercook
  • You, a wench in full bloom, to be living with the dregs of a man like that husband of yours.

    The Power of Darkness Leo Tolstoy
  • We'll bring off the wench, in spite of them all—just the thing I like.

    Rookwood William Harrison Ainsworth
  • There's a wench there whom I know, who thinks me as handsome as Cupido.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • When you are as much and as hopelessly in my power to-day as the wench in my kitchen!

    Count Hannibal Stanley J. Weyman
  • What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can knit him a stock?

    Two Gentlemen of Verona William Shakespeare
  • When a man gave out we turned out a wench and put the man in her place.

    Diary of an Enlisted Man Lawrence Van Alstyne
  • Softly, wench, softly—dost not see it's a hill we're rising.

    Rookwood William Harrison Ainsworth
British Dictionary definitions for wench


a girl or young woman, esp a buxom or lively one: now used facetiously
(archaic) a female servant
(archaic) a prostitute
verb (intransitive)
(archaic) to frequent the company of prostitutes
Derived Forms
wencher, noun
Word Origin
Old English wencel child, from wancol weak; related to Old High German wanchal, wankōn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wench

late 13c., wenche "girl or young woman," shortened from wenchel "child" (12c.), from Old English wencel, probably related to wancol "unsteady, fickle, weak," and cognate with Old Norse vakr "child, weak person," Old High German wanchal "fickle." The word degenerated through being used in reference to servant girls, and by mid-14c. was being used in a sense of "woman of loose morals, mistress."

The wenche is nat dead, but slepith. [Wyclif, Matt. ix:24, c.1380]


"to associate with common women," 1590s, from wench (n.). Related: Wenched; wenching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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