Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

cringe

play
verb \ˈkrinj\

Simple Definition of cringe

  • : to feel disgust or embarrassment and often to show this feeling by a movement of your face or body

  • : to make a sudden movement from fear of being hit or hurt

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of cringe

cringed

cringing

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to draw in or contract one's muscles involuntarily (as from cold or pain)

  3. 2 :  to shrink in fear or servility

  4. 3 :  to behave in an excessively humble or servile way

  5. 4 :  to recoil in distaste <Americans cringed … at the use of a term now regarded as a slur — William Safire>

cringer

noun

Examples of cringe in a sentence

  1. Many English teachers cringe when their students use the word ain't.

  2. I always cringe when I hear that song.

  3. Just the thought of eating broccoli makes me cringe.

  4. The dog cringed at the noise.



Origin and Etymology of cringe

Middle English crengen; akin to Old English cringan to yield, Middle High German krank weak


First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of cringe

fawn, toady, truckle, cringe, cower mean to behave abjectly before a superior. fawn implies seeking favor by servile flattery or exaggerated attention <waiters fawning over a celebrity>. toady suggests the attempt to ingratiate oneself by an abjectly menial or subservient attitude <toadying to his boss>. truckle implies the subordination of oneself and one's desires or judgment to those of a superior <truckling to a powerful lobbyist>. cringe suggests a bowing or shrinking in fear or servility <a cringing sycophant>. cower suggests a display of abject fear in the company of threatening or domineering people <cowering before a bully>.

2

cringe

noun

Definition of cringe

  1. :  a cringing act; specifically :  a servile bow



1597

First Known Use of cringe

1597

Rhymes with cringe


CRINGE Defined for Kids

cringe

play
verb \ˈkrinj\

Definition of cringe for Students

cringed

cringing

  1. 1 :  to shrink in fear :  cower <… when you see a dog cringe … You know somebody's been kicking at him. — Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Shiloh>

  2. 2 :  to show disgust or embarrassment at something <He cringed at the suggestion of eating liver.>





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up cringe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to destroy or remove completely

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

two-chairs-on-a-pier-by-the-ocean-in-summer

Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?

estival vernal hiemal brumal
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ