win·​some | \ ˈwin(t)-səm How to pronounce winsome (audio) \

Definition of winsome

1 : generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence a winsome smile

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Other Words from winsome

winsomely adverb
winsomeness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for winsome



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Did You Know?

Winsome began as "wynsum" a thousand years ago. It was formed from "wynn," the Old English word for "joy" or "pleasure," and the suffix -sum, an older form of the "-some" we see today in many adjectives, such as "awesome," "irksome," and "lonesome." "Wynn" later became win, meaning "pleasure," but we haven't used that noun since the 17th century. We do, however, use another word that has a "pleasing" connection and is related, albeit distantly, to "winsome." "Winning" ("tending to please or delight," as in "a winning smile" or "winning ways"), the present participle of the familiar verb "win," is from Old English winnan, meaning "to struggle." Both "winnan" and "wynn" are thought to be related to Latin venus, which means, among other things, "charm."

Examples of winsome in a Sentence

He had a winsome, boyish smile. she was a bright, winsome gamine who could draw a smile out of anyone
Recent Examples on the Web The clear standout of Swift’s Christmas album, with an endearingly winsome riff and lyrics that paint a poignant picture of yuletide heartbreak. Nate Jones, Vulture, "All 179 Taylor Swift Songs, Ranked," 11 Jan. 2021 This winsome tale, in fantastically flat animation, will be an Oscar contender. Jim Kiest,, "Catch up with some of 2020’s best movies like ‘Time,’ ‘Wolfwalker’ at home," 29 Dec. 2020 Cawthorn's personal style of evangelism — which appears to be a talking-to-strangers model many Christians, like me, literally never contemplate — doesn't seem terribly winsome. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "American politics is fundamentally unserious about Christianity," 19 Nov. 2020 Testifying at her confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett was just as intelligent and winsome as prior reports had said. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 29 Oct. 2020 This winsome graphic novel about putting on a play focuses on Callie, a theater kid brimming with excitement about designing sets and making props. Washington Post, "For Banned Books Week, I read the country’s 10 most challenged books. The gay penguins did not corrupt me.," 28 Sep. 2020 Williams blends rom-com fun with more weighty topics in her winsome debut. Washington Post, "Fall reading: 12 books to keep you occupied for the rest of 2020," 5 Sep. 2020 Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, the film remains one of the most charming, winsome depictions of super-smart science whizzes idealistically hoping to change the world for the better with their work. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Real Genius turns 35—celebrating this cult classic is a moral imperative," 9 Aug. 2020 That makes the digressive moments of quirkiness between Perkins and Giedroyc, like Fran and Jamie debating which Lion King characters are the hottest, feel all the more winsome — and insufficient in number. Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hitmen': TV Review," 4 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'winsome.' 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 winsome

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for winsome

Middle English winsum, from Old English wynsum, from wynn joy; akin to Old High German wunna joy, Latin venus desire — more at win

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The first known use of winsome was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Winsome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of winsome

formal : cheerful, pleasant, and appealing


win·​some | \ ˈwin-səm How to pronounce winsome (audio) \

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