\ ˈflinch How to pronounce flinch (audio) \
flinched; flinching; flinches

Definition of flinch

intransitive verb

: 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.

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Other Words from flinch

flinch noun
flincher noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of flinch in a Sentence

He flinched when I tapped him on the shoulder. She met danger without flinching. The bill was much higher than expected, but he paid it without flinching.
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Recent Examples on the Web Unlike legions of past Democratic candidates, O’Rourke didn’t flinch. Michael Luo, The New Yorker, "Did Beto O’Rourke Just Change the Democratic Conversation on Guns at the Debate?," 13 Sep. 2019 There were going to be growing pains, but Malzahn urged the 19-year-old to not flinch in the face of adversity. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Bo Nix delivers Auburn big win vs Oregon, 1st of ‘plenty’ of moments in debut," 1 Sep. 2019 David Grissom made the tough calls without flinching. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "David Grissom's inaction on Louisville basketball scandal is inexplicable, indefensible," 12 Aug. 2019 Hard to think a unit with that much experience and strong leadership from both coaches and players would flinch like that. Fletcher Page, Cincinnati.com, "What we learned in Cincinnati Bearcats' loss at Ohio State," 8 Sep. 2019 When the opportunity to go to Angola came along, Wanda didn’t flinch. USA Today, "Were Wanda Tucker’s ancestors America’s first slaves? A difficult search for answers in far-away Angola," 22 Aug. 2019 Most voters don’t flinch at cuts to the arts, or science, or foreign aid. Allison Schrager, Quartz, "Critics of the congressional budget deal are ignoring the really big deal," 24 July 2019 Good on the Getty for not flinching at its display. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "Review: Getty Villa’s ‘Buried by Vesuvius’ is exquisite and, at times, explicit," 3 July 2019 The boy doesn't flinch and is shown smiling at the lion. Janelle Griffith, NBC News, "Video shows little boy unfazed as lion creeps up behind him at New Orleans zoo," 31 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of flinch

1578, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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

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Statistics for flinch

Last Updated

13 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for flinch

The first known use of flinch was in 1578

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More Definitions for flinch


How to pronounce flinch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of flinch

: to move suddenly because you are afraid of being hit or hurt
: to show fear : to hesitate from doing something unpleasant or dangerous


\ ˈflinch How to pronounce flinch (audio) \
flinched; flinching

Kids Definition of flinch

: 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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More from Merriam-Webster on flinch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flinch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flinch

Spanish Central: Translation of flinch

Nglish: Translation of flinch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of flinch for Arabic Speakers

Comments on flinch

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to speed up the process or progress of

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