From Middle English winsǒm, winsome, winsum, wunsum (fair, pleasing to the senses; agreeable, gracious, pleasant; generous; of situations: favourable, propitious), from Old English wynsum (joyful, merry, pleasant; winsome),[1] from Proto-Germanic *wunisamaz, *wunjōsamaz (joyful), from *wunjō (delight, desire, joy), from Proto-Indo-European *wenh₁- (to love; to wish), equivalent to winne ((obsolete) delight, joy, pleasure) +‎ -some. The word is cognate with Middle High German wunnesam (delightful, joyful; winsome) (modern German Wonne (bliss, delight, joy)), Old English wynn (delight, joy, pleasure, rapture), Scots winsome, wunsome (charming, comely, pleasing). See also winne, winly.



winsome (comparative winsomer, superlative winsomest)

  1. Charming, engaging, winning; inspiring approval and trust, especially if in an innocent manner.
    The doctor’s bedside manner was especially winsome.
    • 1851 October, Jonathan Freke Slingsby [pseudonym; John Francis Waller], “Slingsby in Scotland. Part II.—Conclusion.”, in The Dublin University Magazine, a Literary and Political Journal, volume XXXVIII, number CCXXVI, Dublin: James McGlashan, 50 Upper Sackville-St.; London: W[illia]m S[omerville] Orr, OCLC 841086102, stanza I, page 494:
      Will ye keep your troth to me, / Winsome Annie Ramsay? / Will ye keep your troth to me, / Winsome Annie Ramsay? / Will ye keep your troth to me? / My ain true luve will ye be? / Then meet me at the trysting tree, / Winsome Annie Ramsay.
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, “[Episode 13, Nausicaa]”, in Ulysses, Paris: Shakespeare & Co.; Sylvia Beach, OCLC 560090630; republished London: Published for the Egoist Press, London by John Rodker, Paris, October 1922, OCLC 2297483, page 333:
      Gerty MacDowell who was seated near her companions, lost in thought, gazing far away into the distance was in very truth as fair a specimen of winsome Irish girlhood as one could wish to see.
    • 1923, Song Ong Siang, “The Ninth Decade (1899–1909): Second Part”, in One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore: [], London: John Murray, [], OCLC 417315791, page 377:
      He [Ching Keng Lee] is a man of fine physique and above the height of the average Straits-born, with a shrewd business head, and affable and winsome manners, and continues to take a keen interest in public affairs.
    • 1961, David Alexander, “When the Rain Stops”, in Hangman’s Dozen, New York, N.Y.: Roy Publishers, OCLC 1118558, page 216:
      The pink wallpaper of the nursery was decorated with a Noah's Ark of friendly lions and comical giraffes and winsome elephants.

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  1. ^ winsǒm, adj.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 19 March 2018.

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