Origin: 1250–1300;Middle Englishwinsen, variant of winchen,wenchen to kick < Anglo-French*wenc(h)ier;Old Frenchguenc(h)ier < Germanic. Cf. wench, winch1
Synonyms 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.
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.