Definition of flinch in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Make a quick, nervous movement of the face or body as an instinctive reaction to surprise, fear or pain.

    ‘she flinched at the acidity in his voice’
    ‘he had faced death without flinching’
    • ‘At the quick movement, Steele flinched instinctively and was wide awake.’
    • ‘Though he had steeled himself against the reaction, Raylf knew he still flinched at the tone.’
    • ‘This was a little disappointing considering the state of modern discreet body armour which could stop most rifle rounds without flinching.’
    • ‘I moved my bare toes slightly on the ground and flinched at the pain.’
    • ‘As the bubbles struck his body, he flinched in severe pain.’
    • ‘Boy Gets Girl stares without flinching at the destruction of a woman's life, in a world where the innocent aren't guaranteed safety or security - and no one can do a thing about it.’
    • ‘A hand was extended to meet his grubby palm, he flinched at the sudden movement.’
    • ‘‘The owner says I'm the only girl who can eat a whole one without flinching,’ Cleaveland said proudly.’
    • ‘‘Richard and I have an extremely close relationship, and he's an absolutely fantastic boss,’ he says without flinching.’
    • ‘She didn't notice how he flinched at her touch, almost as if it pained him.’
    • ‘A machine exists which can find and grab slugs, without flinching, and work is in progress on an electricity generator which runs on slug flesh, which the robot would be able to stoke up and then plug into for refuelling.’
    • ‘He softly brushed over the gash in my face, I flinched at the pain.’
    • ‘Dawn flinched at the pain but attempted to ignore it.’
    • ‘He flexed tired fingers and massaged his arm, then flinched at a twinge of pain in his chest.’
    • ‘She only flinched at his words as she realized that her worst fear had come true, she had been kidnapped.’
    • ‘I flinched at my own doing and actually feared that I was going to leave my handprints on his perfect face.’
    • ‘I flinched at the unanticipated pain that surfaced suddenly.’
    • ‘I watched as Christian-Zachery flinched at the sharp pain of the open cut.’
    • ‘Without flinching, the Carlow contingent were on their feet, screaming and shouting in the sort of unbridled joy that's utterly oblivious to everything else.’
    • ‘Raine flinched at his voice, her body tensing even more.’
    wince, start, shy, shy away, recoil, shrink, pull back, back away, draw back, withdraw, blench, cringe, squirm, quiver, shudder, shiver, tremble, quake, shake, quail, cower, waver, falter, hesitate, get cold feet, blanch
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1flinch from Avoid doing or becoming involved in (something) through fear or anxiety.
      ‘I rarely flinch from a fight when I'm sure of myself’
      • ‘I think Michael was brutally honest, he was direct, he never flinched from the most difficult questions.’
      • ‘He said: ‘But what has heartened me is the understanding I have found from every other world leader I have spoken to, of the necessity of not flinching from action.’’
      • ‘It is thematically strong, contains substantial roles for women and never flinches from what it sets out to do.’
      • ‘A History Of Violence is, at heart, a simple story - a man is unable to hide his past as a killer - but it never ever flinches from showing the effects of violence in explicit detail.’
      • ‘She never flinched from taking me to task for tardiness and other ill-disciplined behaviour, albeit in the most tactful and casual manner, although I know that this was done out of a sense of concern.’
      • ‘Campbell's loyalty to Blair has never wavered and he has never flinched from confronting the journalists or newspapers who dared to stand in the way of the New Labour experiment.’
      • ‘The album provides comfort without flinching from sadness and bitter fury.’
      • ‘Everyone knows what the objectives are and what our goals are and no-one has flinched from that.’
      • ‘He could smell the delicious odor of fear coming off her, but she had not flinched from her approaching death.’
      • ‘The families insisted that the filmmakers should not flinch from telling the real story for fear of upsetting them, he said.’
      • ‘Tyler flinches from the window, his hair whipping across his face.’
      • ‘He did not flinch from speaking his mind.’
      • ‘He flinched from nothing when sometimes he should have.’
      • ‘However, instead of flinching from the set-up, contrived to tame its workers, the restaurant defended that this was a strategy aimed at upgrading the quality of its employees, mostly young people.’
      • ‘Elizabeth Long-ford does not flinch from laying historical truths bare, rendering her Wellington an involving work.’
      • ‘We proclaimed it long ago, and never flinched from practicing it since.’
      • ‘While a lot of people didn't mind doing the laundry, many flinched from ploughing through piles of ironing.’
      • ‘Even Englishmen who had some sneaking sympathy for the Stuart cause, you were to understand, must have flinched from its wild embodiment.’
      • ‘I have never underestimated the magnitude of the task before us, but nor have I flinched from my resolve that this is a road which the entire party must travel.’
      • ‘The affable MacFadzean flinches from pretension, but says his work is getting more pointed and political, a process he noticed while writing this piece.’
      shrink, recoil, shy away, turn away, swerve, hang back, demur
      View synonyms


  • An act of flinching.

    ‘“Don't call me that,” he said with a flinch’
    • ‘He felt her hand clasp on top of his, but he didn't move his, not even a flinch as she touched.’
    • ‘‘The people of Nangoma are behind me and I have every reason to be confident,’ he says without a flinch or shade of doubt.’
    • ‘With a flinch, she touched the place where his lips had been.’
    • ‘Not for a moment does the book flinch at the silliness of its high jinks.’
    • ‘Renee crossed her arms, glaring up at Wil without a flinch.’
    • ‘Even an alarm clock buzzing right beside her head or a horn blowing near her ear wouldn't make her twitch or cause even the slightest flinch.’
    • ‘‘Your partner didn't think so,’ he countered, shifting his injured arm and forcing a flinch.’
    • ‘She painlessly moves back and forth from fiddle to guitar, singing to whistling, without so much as a flinch.’
    • ‘‘Ah, you must be Mr. Avery,’ said Wade in a voice that would have made anyone else in the room flinch.’
    • ‘He could see that he had made the chaperone flinch.’
    • ‘His ears flickered backwards, but only a flinch.’
    • ‘Christopher hesitantly reached up to hold the paper, giving a flinch when Sara's hands grabbed hold of his and guided the tearing action.’
    • ‘Lazar met his disbelieving stare without a flinch - smiling, too.’
    • ‘Because of the cold I'm wearing figure hugging wool Long Johns which he suddenly notices with a flinch.’
    • ‘Without a flinch, I hit the brakes and slid to a stop.’
    • ‘Wits's haircut went by smoothly without a flinch or complaint though as Finn began to feel more at ease with the scissors she became more and more careless.’
    • ‘I was watching her face as the needle made first contact and guess what… not a flinch, flutter or grit of the teeth.’
    • ‘Preston soon realized this when she said nothing and didn't move, apart from the occasional flinch whenever she touched her bruise on her right arm.’
    • ‘There was no room for a single flinch of the neck or chin.’
    • ‘Without a flinch or missing a beat, Erial continued waltzing around the floor as Artemisia sighed and walked over and picked up the book.’
    jerk, twitch, flinch, wince, spasm, convulsion, jump
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘slink or sneak off’): from Old French flenchir ‘turn aside’, of West Germanic origin and related to German lenken ‘to guide, steer’.