1 he winced at the pain
grimace, make a face, flinch, blanch, start
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1 a wince of pain
grimace, flinch, start
Choose the right word
wince, cower, cringe, flinch, recoil
The same individual might wince when receiving a flu shot, flinch from a difficult task, and cower in fear at the approach of a tornado. All of these verbs mean to draw back in alarm, disgust, faintheartedness, or servility, but there are subtle differences among them. To wince is to make a slight recoiling movement, often an involuntary contraction of the facial features, in response to pain or discomfort ( to wince when the singer misses a high note), while flinch may imply a similar drawing-back motion or, more abstractly, a reluctance or avoidance ( to tackle the job without flinching). Cower and cringe both refer to stooped postures, although cower is usually associated with fearful trembling ( he cowered in the doorway) while cringe is usually linked to servile, cowardly, or fawning behavior ( she cringed before her father's authority). More than any of the other verbs here, recoil suggests a physical movement away from something ( recoil at the sight of a poisonous snake), although that movement may also be psychological ( recoil at the very thought of a family reunion).