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From Middle English wynsom, winsom, winsome, winsum, wunsum (beautiful; agreeable, gracious, pleasant; generous; of situations: favourable, propitious), from Old English wynsum (joyful, merry, pleasant; winsome), from Proto-West Germanic *wunnjusam (joyful); synchronically analyzable as winne (delight, joy, pleasure) +‎ -some.



winsome (comparative winsomer, superlative winsomest)

  1. Charming, engaging, winning; inspiring approval and trust, especially if in an innocent manner.
    • 1847, Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, chapter IX:
      [] lifting her winsome eyes to my face with that sort of look which turns off bad temper, even when one has all the right in the world to indulge it.
    • 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, London: The Egoist Press, published 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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