Definition of winch in English:



  • 1A hauling or lifting device consisting of a rope or chain winding round a horizontal rotating drum, turned typically by a crank or by 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.’
    • ‘Mark grabs it and attaches it to the winch as Gerry starts the winch motor.’
    • ‘Ropes and pulleys and an electric winch were used for the job.’
    • ‘The anchor winch has a large drum on the back, with its axis along the wreck.’
    • ‘I'd say it was an ex-fishing boat because it's got a drum winch on the front.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Recovery operations are carried out using two Rotzler hydraulic winches and a hydraulically operated crane.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The para-dropping and cargo handling equipment comprises two travelling cranes, two winches, rollgang and tiedown equipment.’
    • ‘North Yorkshire Fire and rescue crews released Mr Brader using specialist winches and airbags to lift up the tractor.’
    • ‘It has neat navigational aids, polished winches, ropes a-plenty, exciting pump-action loos and a limitless supply of biscuits.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Lucia was going to need a winch to haul me around everyday.’
    • ‘Forward of the boilers there is little but scraps of metal, except for the anchor winch, chains and anchors.’
    crane, derrick, hoist, davit, windlass, tackle, block and tackle, lifting gear, hoisting gear, system of pulleys, sheave
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    1. 1.1British The reel of a fishing rod.
      • ‘The winch could simply be a large fishing reel with some pretty small towline (or large fishing line - depending upon your point of view).’
      • ‘Look at any fly rod and you will see that the screw winch fitting is at the very end of the rod.’
    2. 1.2
      another term for wince
      • ‘Sasuke took out the kunai knife, expecting Ayame to winch in pain, but she didn't. She was still.’
      • ‘Did anyone else grab their ears and winch in pain when Kevin began to sing on Monday's show?’
  • 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.’


[with object]
  • Hoist or haul with a winch.

    ‘an attempt to winch survivors of the wreck into a helicopter’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The frightened but brave ten-year-old held on before he was winched to safety shortly after 7 pm last Tuesday evening.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Along with the chopper crew, the team practiced stretcher loading, winching a casualty into the aircraft and landing zone safety.’
    • ‘As fire tenders moved to different angles as the flames spread, small black hoses had to be winched manually, a time consuming process.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Instead, an RAF rescue helicopter was scrambled from Chivenor in Devon and she was winched up from the beach and flown to Withybush hospital.’
    • ‘A yellow banner is being winched into position.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The inexperienced sailors were winched to safety.’
    raise, hoist, heave, haul up, uplift, heft, boost, raise aloft, raise up, upraise, elevate, thrust, hold high, bear aloft
    View synonyms


Late Old English wince ‘reel, pulley’, of Germanic origin; related to the verb wink. The verb dates from the early 16th century.