c. 1300, wincen; mid-13c. winchen, "to recoil suddenly," from Anglo-French *wenchir, Old North French *wenchier (Old French guenchir) "to turn aside, avoid," from Frankish *wenkjan, from Proto-Germanic *wankjan (source also of Old High German wankon "to stagger, totter," Old Norse vakka "to stray, hover;" see wink (v.)). Originally of horses. Modern form is attested from late 13c. Related: Winced; wincing.