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

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 Providing the cheerful, winsome, moving background music of the holiday is these artists’ enduring gift to all of us. Rich Lowry, National Review, "The Golden Era of Christmas Songs," 25 Dec. 2019 Michael Jackson, winsome Prince of Pop, had money, power and fame — and, according to Dan Reed’s four-hour film, a cold willingness to use them as tools to molest young boys. Tom Gliatto,, "The 10 Best TV Shows of the Year, According to PEOPLE’s Critic: Fleabag, The Crown and More!," 12 Dec. 2019 But such is the state of the political debate in 2019 that even the winsome and refreshing candidate, Andrew Yang, is a net subtraction to our collective self-understanding. Rich Lowry, National Review, "Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman," 18 Oct. 2019 The Council’s winsome focus on Christ himself proposed to answer the human search for freedom and truth that modernity claimed to seek. David P. Deavel, National Review, "Catholicism Confronts Modernity," 24 Oct. 2019 After all, there’s no rule against sporting winsome prints and cheerful colorways after Labor Day. Marley Marius, Vogue, "20 Ways to Bring Summer Romance Into Fall," 3 Oct. 2019 Burton’s winsome sensibility is rich in romance and history, but also luxury. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Fashion commits many sins. It’s trying to redeem itself.," 2 Oct. 2019 Wu’s presence onscreen—impetuous, possessive, pugilistic, winsome—quickly made her character the axle around which the other family members rotate. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "Constance Wu’s Hollywood Destiny," 16 Sep. 2019 Sometimes, as with the winsome School of Rock and Everybody Wants Some!! David Sims, The Atlantic, "Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette Is a Gripping Mess," 16 Aug. 2019

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 2020

Cite this Entry

“Winsome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for winsome


How to pronounce winsome (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of winsome

formal : cheerful, pleasant, and appealing


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

Kids Definition of winsome

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