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See more synonyms for wince on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), winced, winc·ing.
  1. to draw back or tense the body, as from pain or from a blow; start; flinch.
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  1. a wincing or shrinking movement; a slight start.
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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 formswinc·er, nounwinc·ing·ly, adverbwinc·ing·ness, noun


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Synonym study

1. 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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for winced

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Burke winced, but he made shift to conceal his realization of the truth she had stated to him.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Dick, too, winced under the pain of this meeting with his father in a situation so sinister.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • But he wrung their hands till they winced with the pain of that iron grip.

  • Vernon had winced, just as Paula had winced, and at the same words.

  • I will freely own, however, that I winced a little at first reading them.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

British Dictionary definitions for winced


  1. (intr) to start slightly, as with sudden pain; flinch
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  1. the act of wincing
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Derived Formswincer, 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


  1. a roller for transferring pieces of cloth between dyeing vats
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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

Word Origin and History for winced



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper