(of the gait, speech, behavior, etc.) affectedly dainty, nice, or elegant.

Origin of mincing

First recorded in 1520–30; mince + -ing2
Related formsminc·ing·ly, adverbun·minc·ing, adjective



verb (used with object), minced, minc·ing.

to cut or chop into very small pieces.
to soften, moderate, or weaken (one's words), especially for the sake of decorum or courtesy.
to perform or utter with affected elegance.
to subdivide minutely, as land or a topic for study.

verb (used without object), minced, minc·ing.

to walk or move with short, affectedly dainty steps.
Archaic. to act or speak with affected elegance.


something cut up very small; mincemeat.

Origin of mince

1350–1400; Middle English mincen < Middle French minc(i)er < Vulgar Latin *minūtiāre to mince; see minute2
Related formsminc·er, nounun·minced, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for mincing



(of a person) affectedly elegant in gait, manner, or speech
Derived Formsmincingly, adverb



(tr) to chop, grind, or cut into very small pieces
(tr) to soften or moderate, esp for the sake of convention or politenessI didn't mince my words
(intr) to walk or speak in an affected dainty manner


mainly British minced meat
informal nonsensical rubbish

Word Origin for mince

C14: from Old French mincier, from Vulgar Latin minūtiāre (unattested), from Late Latin minūtia smallness; see minutiae
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

Word Origin and History for mincing

"affectedly dainty," 1520s, probably originally in reference to speech, when words were "clipped" to affect elegance; or in reference to walking with short steps; present participle adjective from mince (v.).



late 14c., "to chop in little pieces," from Old French mincier "make into small pieces," from Vulgar Latin *minutiare "make small," from Late Latin minutiæ "small bits," from Latin minutus "small" (see minute (adj.)). Of speech, "to clip affectedly in imitation of elegance," 1540s; of words or language, "to restrain in the interest of decorum," 1590s. Meaning "to walk with short or precise steps" is from 1560s. Related: Minced; mincing.



"minced meat," 1850; see mincemeat.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper