A wince is a facial or bodily expression of pain, disgust, or regret. Think of something you've done that was really, really embarrassing or dumb: now feel your face or take a look in the mirror as you wince at the uncomfortable memory.

A moment of pain or a recollection of something painful can make you wince. It's hard not to have a physical response or a wince with a bad memory or a hurt. And wince is both a verb and a noun, so it can be an action or a result. Sometimes people don’t do anything or have any physical pain, but they wince in discomfort at what someone else does or says, as when no one laughs after a really inappropriate joke.

Definitions of wince

v draw back, as with fear or pain

cringe, flinch, funk, quail, recoil, shrink, squinch
retract, shrink back
pull away from a source of disgust or fear
Type of:
move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion

v make a face indicating disgust or dislike

“She winced when she heard his pompous speech”
Type of:
grimace, make a face, pull a face
contort the face to indicate a certain mental or emotional state

n a reflex response to sudden pain

Type of:
jump, start, startle
a sudden involuntary movement

n the facial expression of sudden pain

Type of:
facial expression, facial gesture
a gesture executed with the facial muscles

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