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”), 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.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈwɪns(ə)m/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈwɪnsəm/
- Hyphenation: win‧some
- 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: Being a Chronological Record of the Contribution by the Chinese Community to the Development, Progress and Prosperity of Singapore; of Events and Incidents Concerning the Whole or Sections of that Community; and of the Lives, Pursuits and Public Service of Individual Members thereof from the Foundation of Singapore on 6th February 1819 to Its Centenary on 6th February 1919 [...] With Numerous Portraits and Illustrations, London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, W., 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.