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35 Words that Change History


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for wenching
Historical Examples
  • Heads of colleges, reverend clerics, and holders of Fellowships must all answer to the charge of wenching.

    Rowlandson's Oxford A. Hamilton Gibbs
  • Why, is any business more public than drinking and wenching?

  • Their other chief hobby was, in the language of the time, wenching.

    Rowlandson's Oxford A. Hamilton Gibbs
  • Mdrie Gautruche was one of the wenching, idling, vagabond workmen who make their whole life a Monday.

    Germinie Lacerteux Edmond and Jules de Goncourt
British Dictionary definitions for wenching


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 wenching



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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