: to draw back or turn aside from lack of courage : flinch
Did You Know?
If a stranger approaches you in a dark alley, it might cause you to blench. Do you flinch or turn white? Actually, you could do both, and both would be considered blenching because there are two separate verbs spelled "blench" in English. The blench that means "to flinch" derives from blencan, an Old English word meaning "to deceive." The blench meaning "to turn white" is an alteration of blanch, from the French adjective blanc ("white"). Clues to which meaning is intended can often be found in context. The "flinch" use, for example, is strictly intransitive and often followed by from or at ("blenched from the sight of blood"; "didn’t blench at the sound of thunder"). The "whiten" use, meanwhile, can be intransitive ("his skin blenched with terror") or transitive ("the cold blenched her lips").
"I blenched when my son first introduced me to the initials IRL, meaning In Real Life, as opposed to the online world where he and his generation spend so much of their time." — Allison Pearson, The Daily Telegraph (London), 26 Apr. 2017
"If you're a responsible teacher, you talk to your students about money. You say: most novelists earn around £5,000 a year from their writing. You watch them blench. You say: so if you're going to do this, you have to think about how you're going to support yourself." — Naomi Alderman, quoted in The Guardian, 15 Mar. 2014
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