verb \ ˈflinch \
|Updated on: 7 Jul 2018

Definition of flinch

flinched; flinching; flinches
: to withdraw or shrink from or as if from pain : wince
  • He flinched when he was presented with the car repair bill.
; also : to tense the muscles involuntarily in anticipation of discomfort
  • I cannot help flinching when I hear the dentist's drill.





Examples of flinch in a Sentence

  1. He flinched when I tapped him on the shoulder.

  2. She met danger without flinching.

  3. The bill was much higher than expected, but he paid it without flinching.

Recent Examples of flinch from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flinch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of flinch

Middle French flenchir to bend, of Germanic origin; akin to Middle High German lenken to bend, Old High German hlanca flank — more at lank

Synonym Discussion of flinch

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

FLINCH Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of flinch for English Language Learners

  • : to move suddenly because you are afraid of being hit or hurt

  • : to show fear : to hesitate from doing something unpleasant or dangerous

FLINCH Defined for Kids


verb \ ˈflinch \

Definition of flinch for Students

flinched; flinching
: to draw back from or as if from pain or fear
  • … Homily did not flinch as the great face came slowly closer.
  • —Mary Norton, The Borrowers

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to beat or defeat soundly

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