winced; wincing

intransitive verb

: to shrink back involuntarily (as from pain) : flinch
wince noun
Choose the Right Synonym for wince

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 wince in a Sentence

winced at the movie's graphic depiction of combat injuries
Recent Examples on the Web From Gary Klein: Matthew Stafford placed his right foot gingerly on a step up to the podium and winced through a smile. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 2 Oct. 2023 Anna asks, wincing, as she’s wheeled out of her egg-extraction procedure. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2023 Waterson—stretching her head to the left, every muscle in her face wincing without disturbing her perfect eyeliner somehow—does not reply. Lauren Larson, Men's Health, 25 July 2023 Harry Styles appeared to wince in pain after being hit with an object during his concert in Vienna earlier this month. Doha Madani, NBC News, 30 July 2023 Carl Goff winces at the memory of being behind the wheel of a UPS truck at 4 p.m. in July. Arcelia Martin, Dallas News, 24 July 2023 At the Tribeca documentary premiere, one of the biggest audience laughs was a close-up of Ozzy Osbourne watching their performance, in his tux, wincing in pain. Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, 17 June 2023 For over four decades, since taking over from Chuck Woolery, Sajak has been at that spot, joshing with Vanna White, heaving the wheel on final spins, wincing at Bankrupts and tethering exuberant winners. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 13 June 2023 Some Sabres fans might wince, though, remembering the time at the Garden Lucic freight-trained his way over Ryan Miller, when the Buffalo goalie roamed to the middle of the right defensive circle to field a puck (play on the tracks, expect a train). Kevin Paul Dupont,, 3 June 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English wynsen to kick out, start, from Anglo-French *wincer, *guincer to shift direction, dodge, by-form of guenchir, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German wenken, wankōn to totter — more at wench

First Known Use

circa 1748, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of wince was circa 1748

Dictionary Entries Near wince

Cite this Entry

“Wince.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


winced; wincing
: to shrink back (as from pain) : flinch
the cut on my leg caused me to wince
the crowd winced when the skater fell on the ice
wince noun

More from Merriam-Webster on wince

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