Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To cut or chop into very small pieces.
  • transitive v. To subdivide (land, for example) into minute parts.
  • transitive v. To pronounce in an affected way, as with studied elegance and refinement.
  • transitive v. To moderate or restrain (words) for the sake of politeness and decorum; euphemize: Don't mince words: say what you mean.
  • intransitive v. To walk with very short steps or with exaggerated primness.
  • intransitive v. To speak in an affected way.
  • n. Finely chopped food, especially mincemeat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Finely chopped meat.
  • n. Finely chopped mixed fruit used in Christmas pies; mincemeat.
  • n. An affected (often dainty or short and precise) gait.
  • n. An affected manner, especially of speaking; an affectation.
  • v. To make less; make small.
  • v. To lessen; diminish; to diminish in speaking; speak of lightly or slightingly; minimise.
  • v. To effect mincingly.
  • v. To cut into very small pieces; to chop fine.
  • v. To suppress or weaken the force of; to extenuate; to palliate; to tell by degrees, instead of directly and frankly; to clip, as words or expressions; to utter half and keep back half of.
  • v. To affect; to pronounce affectedly or with an accent.
  • v. To walk with short steps; to walk in a prim, affected manner.
  • v. To act or talk with affected nicety; to affect delicacy in manner.
  • v. To diminish the force of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A short, precise step; an affected manner.
  • intransitive v. To walk with short steps; to walk in a prim, affected manner.
  • intransitive v. To act or talk with affected nicety; to affect delicacy in manner.
  • transitive v. To cut into very small pieces; to chop fine; to hash.
  • transitive v. To suppress or weaken the force of; to extenuate; to palliate; to tell by degrees, instead of directly and frankly; to clip, as words or expressions; to utter half and keep back half of.
  • transitive v. To affect; to make a parade of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make less; make small; specifically, to cut or chop into very small pieces: as, to mince meat.
  • To lessen; diminish; especially, to diminish in speaking; speak of lightly or slightingly; minimize.
  • To utter primly: bring or show forth sparingly or in a half-spoken way; hence, to display with affected delicacy; use affectation in regard to: as, to mince one's words or a narrative; to mince the lapses of one's neighbors; a minced oath.
  • To effect mincingly.
  • To walk with short steps or with affected nicety; affect delicacy in manner.
  • To speak with affected elegance.
  • n. Same as mince-meat.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. food chopped into small bits
  • v. make less severe or harsh
  • v. walk daintily
  • v. cut into small pieces

Etymologies

Middle English mincen, from Old French mincier, from Vulgar Latin *minūtiāre, from Latin minūtia, smallness; see minutia.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English mincen, minsen; partly from Old English minsian ("to make less, make smaller, diminish"), from Proto-Germanic *minnisōnan (“to make less”); partly from Old French mincer, mincier ("to cut into small pieces"), from mince ("slender, slight, puny"), from Frankish *minsto, *minnisto, superlative of *min, *minn ("small, less"), from Proto-Germanic *minniz (“less”); both from Proto-Indo-European *(e)mey- (“small, little”). Cognate with Old Saxon minsōn ("to make less, make smaller"), Gothic 𐌼𐌹𐌽𐌶𐌽𐌰𐌽 (minznan, "to become less, diminish"), Swedish minska ("to reduce, lessen"), Gothic 𐌼𐌹𐌽𐍃 (mins, "slender, slight"). More at min. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • World War II, they mince, is the reason we got out of the Great Depression.

    Aemilia Scott: Your Conservative Friend Is Actually a Big Pinko. Or: How We Got Out of the Great Depression.

  • So the mince is now turned into bolognaise (very healthy version too - no excess fat whatsoever and none of that ready made bolognaise sauce rubbish) and is happily simmering.

    The One With The Achievements

  • Cromwell's Head Tavern, a building which is still standing on the north side of School Street, upon the site of No. 13, where Mrs. Harrington now deals out coffee and "mince" - pie to her customers, Beacon Hill was a collection of pastures, owned by thirteen proprietors, in lots containing from a half to twenty acres each.

    The Bay State Monthly — Volume 1, No. 6, June, 1884

  • When the game ended, with him invariably the winner, players and spectators alike repaired to a tent to gorge ourselves on barbe - cue, a delicious concoction of roasted pork and peppery sauce, assisted by melons and fruits, all washed down with glasses of toddy, punch and porter, followed by a rich dessert called mince pie.

    Legacy

  • - highlight of the mince was an attempted Sfx, namely “boing”, with the appropriate italian soccer referee gestures and carryings on, perhaps in sympathy with rolph harris (two little boys had two little toys).salute. v.

    Cheeseburger Gothic » Here’s what I did at six o’clock this morning.

  • He does kind of mince like a sad cat when confronted with icky wet grass or mud.

    but not a real pandemic, that's cruel.

  • Larry Downing/Reuters Alex Wells, 13, of San Diego, spelled "mince" correctly in round two on Wednesday, left, and made it to round five Thursday before misspelling "dansant."

    Spelled Out

  • And then, even as now, the Post Office requested those mailing gifts, especially food parcels such as mince-pies, to make sure that they were securely packed so as to avoid damage in shipping.

    Christmas Cards and Christmas Mail

  • With the Restoration in 1660 came a return to pre-Puritan festivities, so Samuel Pepys was partaking in the renewed enjoyment of dishes such as mince pies.

    Mince Pies (pre-Christmas baking)

  • They are invariably made in a triangular shape, an inch thick, and filled with a kind of mince meat.

    A Righte Merrie Christmasse The Story of Christ-Tide

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Comments

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  • If felt strange to be going about the opening routine, just as if Lafayette were going to mince in any minute with a story about some party he'd been to, the way he had a few days before. -Charlaine Harris, Living Dead in Dallas

    December 11, 2010

  • In Japanese culture, the mincing gait seems to describe the behavior and effects associated with foot binding.

    June 12, 2010

  • I'm trying to understand the connection between the definition of mince in phrases like minced oath and mince your words and its etymology "minūtiāre"-- to make smaller. Because every time I hear "I'm not one to mince my words", the first thing I picture is someone with a bunch of words on a chopping board and a cleaver.

    Is the idea that a minced oath, in general, was not only euphemized, but also contracted, i.e. made smaller?

    June 11, 2010

  • (..) Her father, faithful keeper, fed me well,
    but she came daily with my special bowl
    barefoot into my cage (..)

    Until today: an icy spectre, sheathed
    in silk, minced to my side on pointed feet.
    I ripped the scented veil from its unreal
    head (..) A ghost has bones, and meat!
    Come soon, my love, my bride, and share this meal.

    - Gwen Harwood, The Lion's Bride

    August 31, 2008

  • ...her small stiff steps ... minced down the hall and died out in the distance.

    - Edith Wharton, The Reef

    June 28, 2008