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Collins American English Dictionary says:

squinch (skwɪntʃ)

(US)

transitive verb

  1. to squint (the eyes); squinched up her eyes in disgust. M-W

2.

a. to pucker or screw up (the face, nose, brow, etc.); Jonathan squinched his face into a grimace. Google Books

b. to squeeze or compress; She squinched the paper up in an angry twist and stood to throw it into the stove Google Books; Robert squinched the ketchup bottle, trying to get the last bit out.

intransitive verb

  1. to squint, pucker, or contort

  2. to crouch down or draw oneself together so as to seem smaller; I squinched down under the sheet; The man squinched down to fit under the table (Source: American Literature Unit 11 Vocab Notes.)

  3. to flinch

Word Origin: probably blend of squint and pinch

First Known Use: 1835

Example Sentences Including "squinch:"

Cooper saw her squinch up her eyes, trying to make out who was standing outside her kitchen window.

An unhappy smile is still a smile, insofar as the corners of the mouth are drawn back or upturned. However, the eyebrows may be furrowed, and the eyes may be squinched or teary. Also, the lips tend to be pressed together, rather than relaxed as in a happy smile. ELU

My question is, how do native speakers of AmEng use the verb squinch in the senses supported above by CAED?

In addition, what's the difference between using either "squinch" or "squint/flinch" as in the following examples:

She squinched (up) her eyes, trying to make out who was standing outside.

She squinted her eyes, trying to make out who was standing outside.

-and-

The driver squinched as the sun hit his windshield.

The driver squinted as the sun hit his windshield.

-and-

The children squinched so as to scare each other.

The children squinted so as to scare each other.

-and-

He squinched as the cold water struck him.

He flinched as the cold water struck him.

-and-

She squinched when they showed the slaughtering of the calf.

She flinched when they showed the slaughtering of the calf.

  • It's mostly just a more colorful, jocular way to say "squint". – Hot Licks Feb 21 '16 at 15:31
  • "The children squinched so as to scare each other" doesn't seem idiomatic to me, as an intransitive verb. Do you mean "squinched (up) their eyes" or "squinched (up) their faces"? And you wouldn't use up in squinted up her eyes. Aside from that, I think all your suggested usages are fine, and are more or less synonymous with the alternatives. – Peter Shor Feb 21 '16 at 15:31
  • @PeterShor I mean "squinched their eyes," as defined in the 1st sense of "squinch" as an intransitive verb. – Elian Feb 21 '16 at 15:37
  • I think squinch is less suggestive of weakness than either squint or flinch. – Brian Donovan Feb 21 '16 at 15:39
  • @Elian: with so many different meanings of squinch, if you want to use it to mean squinched their eyes, you need context that rules out all the other meanings. Like "she squinched to see the castle in the distance". – Peter Shor Feb 21 '16 at 15:58
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It seems to me that squint describes the action of the facial muscles in a neutral way, whereas squinch up is used in contexts where the speaker wants to characterize or emphasize how the person's face looks when they are squinting. The up draws attention to the appearance of the facial musculature.

  • 1
    See also scrunch merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scrunch which is identical in usage to what Tim describes. – H.R.Rambler Feb 21 '16 at 17:42
  • @H.R.Rambler How would you use "squinch" in Sense 2b.? Would saying "Robert squinched the ketchup bottle, trying to get the last bit out" make any sense to you? – Elian Feb 21 '16 at 18:00
  • Yup, granted I wouldn't say squinched or scrunched personally... But that matches the synonym for 'squeeze', and if the ketchup bottle stayed in a squeezed state the the bottle might be 'squinched up' at that point. – H.R.Rambler Feb 21 '16 at 18:31
  • @H.R.Rambler, how about intransitive "squinch" in Sense 3? What would be a nice example sentence for it? – Elian Feb 21 '16 at 18:44
  • @H.R.Rambler - Yeah, "scrunch" is much more familiar in the US, and has many of the same meanings. – Hot Licks Feb 21 '16 at 19:31

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