Definitions

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

  • adj. Charming, often in a childlike or naive way.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Charming; inspiring trust and approval; especially if in an innocent manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Cheerful; merry; gay; light-hearted.
  • adj. Causing joy or pleasure; gladsome; pleasant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • That gives or is fitted to give joy, delight, or satisfaction; delightful; pleasing, agreeable, or attractive; charming; winning; sweet.
  • Kindly; gracious.
  • Joyful; cheerful; merry; lively; gay.

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

  • adj. charming in a childlike or naive way

Etymologies

Middle English winsum, from Old English wynsum : from wynn, joy; + -sum, characterized by; see -some.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English wynsum ("winsome, pleasant, joyful, merry"), from Proto-Germanic *wunisamaz (“joyful”), from *wunjō (“joy, delight, desire”), from Proto-Indo-European *wun-, *wenǝ- (“to wish, love”), equivalent to winne +‎ -some. Cognate with Scots winsome, wunsome ("charming, comely, pleasing"), Middle High German wunnesam ("winsome, joyful, delightful"), Old English wynn ("joy, rapture, pleasure, delight"), German Wonne ("bliss, delight, joy"). More at winne, winly. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The one, Juliana, the only daughter of a retired sea-captain, he described as a winsome lassie.

    Novel Notes

  • Then her arms dropped, and she looked straight into camera, her mobile face composed in an expression winsome and grave, and so light it might change with breeze.

    Temporary Wife

  • She had about her that charm of manner which can only be described as winsome womanliness.

    Prudence of the Parsonage

  • Socola rose, extended his hand, drew his cloak about his slender shoulders and passed out into the storm, his dark face lighted by a smile as he recalled the winsome face of Jennie Barton.

    The Victim A romance of the Real Jefferson Davis

  • Close against them and overpeering their tops were hollyhocks and dahlias; against these stood at lesser height sweet peas, asters, zinnias, coreopsis and others of like stature; in front of these were poppies for summer, marigolds for autumn; beneath these again were verbenas, candytuft -- all this is sketched from memory, and I recall the winsome effect rather than species and names; and still below nestled portulaca and periwinkle.

    The Amateur Garden

  • I told him he might bring me down another guest instead of the tailor, and he has brought a poor young pupil teacher, whom Tibbie calls a winsome gallant, but I am afraid she won't save him.

    Clever Woman of the Family

  • They seldom laughed or twinkled and the nose that kept them company was equally sedate, being purely aquiline, but a mouth with dimpled corners upset the scheme entirely, while ripples of golden brown hair completed the picture of a healthy, happy youngster -- not radiantly beautiful but what people like to call "winsome," which is after all as good a word as most.

    Across the Mesa

  • He liked his "winsome" quality, and the fact that he seemed knowledgeable about everything from paper-making techniques to the latest legislation on gay marriage.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Diehard (the band) sling out great, buzzy songs, and couple them with the kind of winsome lyrics that lend credence to the idea that everything's going to be all right.

    Artrocker

  • He has a kind of winsome smile and frequently jogs around the set, running from one side of the lawn to the other, and it doesn't feel like the obnoxiousness of a fidgety adult but the buoyancy of a wide-eyed kid.

    The House Next Door

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Comments

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  • It's a pretty kind of word about which I bear, mysteriously, considerable indifference. To paraphrase the uselessness, I'm in the unabashed meh zone here.

    October 18, 2008

  • Wow, both Winsome Smile and I'm Not That Girl are really good songs. I thought it was wound all heals though (enallage).

    July 20, 2008

  • Chris Smither's song "Winsome Smile", last stanza:

    Time will wound all heels
    And it ain’t pretty
    With any luck at all
    She’ll find some dope that you can pity
    Your loss is measured in illusions
    And your gain is all in bittersweet intelligence
    And your winsome smile will lose some of its innocence
    Your winsome smile
    Your winsome smile will lose some of its innocence

    October 22, 2007

  • Funny, sog. I chuckle now because I was not here then.

    July 14, 2007

  • "She who's winsome, she wins him..." - Wicked

    January 11, 2007

  • You winsome, you losesome!

    December 30, 2006