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[wins] /wɪns/
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.
Origin of wince1
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
Related forms
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wincing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • “Keep it up, Joe,” said Wyvern, with an effort refraining from wincing under the abominable pain of the stings.

    A Secret of the Lebombo Bertram Mitford
  • Mr. Don rises, wincing, and Dick also is at once on his feet, full of compunction.

    Echoes of the War J. M. Barrie
  • "But it hurts," said Miss Marty, wincing, with a catch of her breath.

    The Mayor of Troy Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • She saw the struggle of his smile and the wincing of his soul.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • "You have an excellent memory," said Miss Watling, wincing under the infliction.

    The World Before Them Susanna Moodie
British Dictionary definitions for wincing


(intransitive) to start slightly, as with sudden pain; flinch
the act of wincing
Derived Forms
wincer, noun
Word Origin
C18 (earlier (C13) meaning: to kick): via Old French wencier, guenchir to avoid, from Germanic; compare Old Saxon wenkian, Old High German wenken


a roller for transferring pieces of cloth between dyeing vats
Word Origin
C17: variant of winch
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 wincing



early 13c., winch, probably from Old North French *wenchier (in Old French guenchir "to turn aside, avoid"), from Frankish *wenkjan, from Proto-Germanic *wankjan (cf. Old High German wankon "to stagger, totter," Old Norse vakka "to stray, hover;" see wink). Originally of horses. Modern form is attested from late 13c. Related: Winced; wincing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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