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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English whynne, from Old Norse hvein (gorse, furze) (compare Norwegian kvein (bent grass), Swedish ven (bent grass), dialectal hven (swamp)), apparently from hvein (swampy land), from Proto-Germanic *hwainō, *hwin- (swamp; moor), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱʷeyn- (to soil; mud; filth). Compare Latin caenum (filth), Latin inquīnō (to sully; soil).


whin (countable and uncountable, plural whins)

  1. Gorse; furze (Ulex spp.).
    • 1790, Robert Burns, Tam o' Shanter, 1828, Thomas Park (editor), Works of the British Poets, Volume XX: The Poems of Robert Burns, page 65,
      By this time he was cross the ford, / Whare in the snaw the chapman smoor'd; / And past the birks and meikle stane, / Whare drunken Charlie brak's neck-bane; / And through the whins, and by the cairn, / Whare hunters fand the murder'd bairn; / And near the thorn, aboon the well, / Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel.
    • 1932, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Sunset Song, A Scots Quair, 1995, Canongate Books, page 38,
      And sometimes they clambered down […] and saw the whin bushes climb black the white hills beside them and far and away the blink of lights across the moors where folk lay happed and warm.
  2. The plant woad-waxen (Genista tinctoria).
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Gray to this entry?)
Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. Whinstone.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for whin in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Middle English[edit]



  1. (Northern) Alternative form of winnen (to win)