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Wench or Winch

When I took sailing lessons, I heard many people call a winch a wench. Here's a tip to help you remember the difference.

By
Mignon Fogarty,,
August 7, 2013

Wench comes from the Middle English word wenchel, which meant “child.” A wenchel was a child of either sex, but today wench refers to a woman. It’s most often used as a joke or an insult, but technically it can mean a country girl, a servant, a loose woman, or simply a young woman.

Winch comes from the Old English word wince, which meant “pully.” I’ve used winches on sailboats to pull and tighten line—a winch is any type of crank.

Quick and Dirty Tip: Remember that winch is spelled with an i by associating it with the word wince: You may wince if you pull too hard on a winch.

Winch photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

winch or wench

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