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February 4, 2018

Word of the Day: Blench

1 CQ

Word of the Day : February 4, 2018

blench \BLENCH\ verb


: to draw back or turn aside from lack of courage : flinch

Did You Know?

If a stranger approaches you in a dark alley, it might cause you to blench. Do you flinch or turn white? Actually, you could do both, and both would be considered blenching because there are two separate verbs spelled "blench" in English. The blench that means "to flinch" derives from blencan, an Old English word meaning "to deceive." The blench meaning "to turn white" is an alteration of blanch, from the French adjective blanc ("white"). Clues to which meaning is intended can often be found in context. The "flinch" use, for example, is strictly intransitive and often followed by from or at ("blenched from the sight of blood"; "didn’t blench at the sound of thunder"). The "whiten" use, meanwhile, can be intransitive ("his skin blenched with terror") or transitive ("the cold blenched her lips").

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Aired February 4, 2018

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Pat G
When Hamlet, planning his play’The Mousetrap’ to “catch the conscience of the king,” says he will “tent [Claudius] to the quick” and “If he but blanch, I’ll know my course,” does he mean “flinch,” “turn white,” or maybe both?
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