Definition of winch in English:



  • 1A hauling or lifting device consisting of a rope, cable, or chain winding around a horizontal rotating drum, turned by a crank or by motor or other power source; a windlass.

    • ‘The raised forecastle has all the normal anchor handling gear as well as a huge single winch used for hauling loads out of the fish hold.’
    • ‘To haul one of his traps, Glen uses a gaff to grab its buoy, then wraps the attached rope around a hydraulic winch that brings the trap from its resting place, typically in two to six fathoms of water, to boat-side.’
    • ‘The anchor winch has a large drum on the back, with its axis along the wreck.’
    • ‘Ropes and pulleys and an electric winch were used for the job.’
    • ‘We came out through a hatch onto the stern deck, next to the main winch from which ropes and netting seemed to disappear in all directions.’
    • ‘Forward of the boilers there is little but scraps of metal, except for the anchor winch, chains and anchors.’
    • ‘The company, which has divisions in the Blue Toon, Aberdeen and Old Deer, makes hydraulic equipment such as winches and cranes, for the fishing and offshore industries.’
    • ‘Perched at the stern, where she is manning one of the winches used to crank the ropes that control the main sails, Souka looks uneasy.’
    • ‘Mark grabs it and attaches it to the winch as Gerry starts the winch motor.’
    • ‘The cage was lowered by winch and wire rope to a depth of 5m, just deep enough to escape the surface surge and swell.’
    • ‘It has neat navigational aids, polished winches, ropes a-plenty, exciting pump-action loos and a limitless supply of biscuits.’
    • ‘The para-dropping and cargo handling equipment comprises two travelling cranes, two winches, rollgang and tiedown equipment.’
    • ‘The evil ones quickly pulled it tight and then attached a large bag on a winch to the ropes and then pulled the bag over the castle wall.’
    • ‘I'd say it was an ex-fishing boat because it's got a drum winch on the front.’
    • ‘But remember, all those ropes and winches and seafaring clutter have an important function, and the crew will certainly need to be able to get to them (sometimes in a hurry).’
    • ‘They do the work of motorized winches - haul logs, or move stuck tractors, raise towers, and so on - but with the deftness of a human hand.’
    • ‘Recovery operations are carried out using two Rotzler hydraulic winches and a hydraulically operated crane.’
    • ‘Lucia was going to need a winch to haul me around everyday.’
    • ‘North Yorkshire Fire and rescue crews released Mr Brader using specialist winches and airbags to lift up the tractor.’
    • ‘Driving down hill was the most dangerous, so shoes were fitted to the wheels and a wire rope attached to a winch on the engine was sometimes used to control movement on a steep gradient.’
    crane, derrick, hoist, davit, windlass, tackle, block and tackle, lifting gear, hoisting gear, system of pulleys, sheave
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  • 2The crank of a wheel or axle.

    • ‘My primary role on the boat is called a ‘grinder’, and I provide power for the winches [the circular wheels which wind the boat's sails up and down].’
    • ‘The vessel to be fitted with winches, derricks, wheels and ordinary runners capable of handling lifts up to 2 tons.’


  • Hoist or haul with a winch.

    • ‘Three people had to be winched to safety by helicopter and two more had to abandon their car after it got stuck in sand in a busy weekend for the water rescue services in Sligo Bay.’
    • ‘The frightened but brave ten-year-old held on before he was winched to safety shortly after 7 pm last Tuesday evening.’
    • ‘Sometimes it will be plucking shivering, shocked survivors from a sunken vessel out of lift rafts, from the sea or winching the crew off a vessel that is going to go down.’
    • ‘The inexperienced sailors were winched to safety.’
    • ‘Just a few hundred yards down the road, workmen are busily winching the last of the mangled passenger carriages off the tracks at the site of North Yorkshire's worst rail disaster.’
    • ‘Instead the 30-year-old woman from Whitby had to be airlifted to hospital by a team from RAF Leconfield who winched her to safety.’
    • ‘A yellow banner is being winched into position.’
    • ‘This was a superb demonstration of the RAF pilot's skill, holding a large helicopter in a hover next to a cliff face in the dark while winching the casualty on board.’
    • ‘Dramatic television footage showed rescue workers winching the nine survivors one-by-one from the roof of the restaurant as flames and smoke poured from the upper floors of the building in Taichung City in central Taiwan.’
    • ‘Indian papers have been publishing pictures of women being winched to the bottom of wells to scoop up muddy liquid from what looks like puddles.’
    • ‘Having botched the attempt, and learnt Cleopatra was still alive, he is supposed to have been carried to the mausoleum and winched by the women up through a window to expire after a fine speech in his lover's arms.’
    • ‘Two canoeists from Galway city had a lucky escape on Lough Corrib yesterday when a helicopter winched them to safety after they took shelter on one of the lake's islands.’
    • ‘While he held his machine steady and followed the sprinting animals, the on-board sniper darted the last two heifers and the helicopter winched them back to dry land.’
    • ‘At 7.30 pm, Crewman Walters requested a rescue helicopter to help the fourth person and the lifeboat provided cover while this person was winched to safety.’
    • ‘One elderly woman was winched from Hawnby, which was cut off, after suffering a suspected heart attack and was flown to the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.’
    • ‘As fire tenders moved to different angles as the flames spread, small black hoses had to be winched manually, a time consuming process.’
    • ‘I wish she had seen the elderly nursing home residents being winched off rooftops on to a helicopter, wrapping sheets around their heads as they were too scared to look down.’
    • ‘Along with the chopper crew, the team practiced stretcher loading, winching a casualty into the aircraft and landing zone safety.’
    • ‘Instead, an RAF rescue helicopter was scrambled from Chivenor in Devon and she was winched up from the beach and flown to Withybush hospital.’
    • ‘They were scrambled and reached the semi-conscious walker within minutes of the accident, and he was winched into the helicopter strapped in a special stretcher.’
    raise, hoist, heave, haul up, uplift, heft, boost, raise aloft, raise up, upraise, elevate, thrust, hold high, bear aloft
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Late Old English wince reel, pulley of Germanic origin; related to the verb wink. The verb dates from the early 16th century.