1 of 2

verb (1)

blenched; blenching; blenches

intransitive verb

: to draw back or turn aside from lack of courage : flinch


2 of 2

verb (2)

blenched; blenching; blenches

Did you know?

If a stranger approaches you in a dark alley, it might cause you to blench. Do you flinch or turn white? Actually, you could do both, and both would be considered blenching because there are two separate verbs spelled "blench" in English. The blench that means "to flinch" derives from blencan, an Old English word meaning "to deceive." The blench meaning "to turn white" is an alteration of blanch, from the French adjective blanc ("white"). Clues to which meaning is intended can often be found in context. The "flinch" use, for example, is strictly intransitive and often followed by from or at ("blenched from the sight of blood"; "didn’t blench at the sound of thunder"). The "whiten" use, meanwhile, can be intransitive ("his skin blenched with terror") or transitive ("the cold blenched her lips").

Choose the Right Synonym for blench

recoil, shrink, flinch, wince, blench, quail mean to draw back in fear or distaste.

recoil implies a start or movement away through shock, fear, or disgust.

recoiled at the suggestion of stealing

shrink suggests an instinctive recoil through sensitiveness, scrupulousness, or cowardice.

shrank from the unpleasant truth

flinch implies a failure to endure pain or face something dangerous or frightening with resolution.

faced her accusers without flinching

wince suggests a slight involuntary physical reaction (such as a start or recoiling).

winced in pain

blench implies fainthearted flinching.

stood their ground without blenching

quail suggests shrinking and cowering in fear.

quailed before the apparition

Examples of blench in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
And for those who blench and tremble at the thought of audience participation, take a breath. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, 30 Aug. 2022 Voters bored by the whole subject may blench at the prospect. The Economist, 27 Mar. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'blench.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb (1)

Middle English blenchen "to move suddenly or sharply, flinch, change direction, evade, mislead" (also "to shine, gleam"), going back to Old English blencan "to deceive, cheat" (attested once), probably going back to Germanic *blankjan- (whence also Old Icelandic blekkja "to impose upon"), causative derivative from *blanka- "bright" — more at blank entry 1

Note: See note at blink entry 1.

Verb (2)

alteration of blanch

First Known Use

Verb (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

1797, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of blench was in the 13th century


Dictionary Entries Near blench

Cite this Entry

“Blench.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to shrink back out of fear : flinch


2 of 2 verb
: to make or grow pale : blanch
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