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[win-suh m] /ˈwɪn səm/
sweetly or innocently charming; winning; engaging:
a winsome smile.
Origin of winsome
before 900; Middle English winsom, Old English wynsum, equivalent to wyn joy (see wynn) + -sum -some1
Related forms
winsomely, adverb
winsomeness, noun
unwinsome, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for winsome
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I have here pictured Rydal Water as a winsome summer lake, for this I am sure, before most of us who know it, its image rises.

    The English Lakes A. G. Bradley
  • Then was laughter of liegemen loud resounding with winsome words.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • He was not quite sure but the winsome little Annis, with her shy sweet ways and ready interest, was the more companionable.

  • "It were a winsome wee thing," he said, faintly, and then turned away.

    A Son of Hagar Sir Hall Caine
  • A winsome, lovable personality is worth all the beauty in the world.

    Bee and Butterfly Lucy Foster Madison
  • The face as he saw it then was no longer the face of the winsome bride.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • A salesman was in the act of holding up a bracelet before them on its velvet cushion and flashing it about in a winsome manner.

    Lady Barbarina Henry James
  • She was little changed, this winsome lady in the time that was sped.

    The Shame of Motley Raphael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for winsome


charming; winning; engaging: a winsome smile
Derived Forms
winsomely, adverb
winsomeness, noun
Word Origin
Old English wynsum, from wynn joy (related to Old High German wunnia, German Wonne) + -sum-some1
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 winsome

Old English wynsum "agreeable, pleasant," from wynn "pleasure, delight" (cf. German Wonne "joy, delight;" see win (v.)) + -sum (see -some (1)). Apparently surviving only in northern English dialect for 400 years until revived 18c. by Hamilton, Burns, and other Scottish poets.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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