cra·​dle | \ ˈkrā-dᵊl How to pronounce cradle (audio) \

Definition of cradle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a bed or cot for a baby usually on rockers or pivots
b : a framework or support suggestive of a baby's cradle: such as
(1) : a framework of bars and rods
(2) : the support for a telephone receiver or handset
(3) : a charging station for a device (such as a smartphone or tablet)
c : an implement with rods like fingers attached to a scythe and used formerly for harvesting grain
d : a frame to keep the bedclothes from contact with an injured part of the body
2a : the earliest period of life : infancy from the cradle to the grave
b : a place of origin the cradle of civilization
3 : a rocking device used in panning for gold


cradled; cradling\ ˈkrād-​liŋ How to pronounce cradling (audio) , ˈkrā-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of cradle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to place or keep in or as if in a cradle
c : to support protectively or intimately cradling the injured man's head in her arms
2 : to cut (grain) with a cradle scythe
3 : to place, raise, support, or transport on a cradle

intransitive verb

obsolete : to rest in or as if in a cradle

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of cradle in a Sentence

Noun She placed the phone back on its cradle. A number of ships were resting in their cradles in the shipyard. Verb He cradled her face in his hands. She was cradling the injured man's head in her arms.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This means its five-foot-tall wheels and both axles had to be removed and the gleaming body supported on a rolling cradle in order to be shifted out to a flatbed truck in the parking lot. David Brooks,, "A historic Concord carriage finds a new home in New Hampshire," 26 Aug. 2019 By one estimate, a billion fish died on its decks. * * * Now the Flyer rests in a huge wooden cradle at the boatyard in Port Townsend, a mere specter of a ship in the process of resurrection. Smithsonian, "John Steinbeck’s Epic Ocean Voyage Rewrote the Rules of Ecology," 22 Aug. 2019 The simple sport seats with manual height adjustment cradle and support without extreme bolsters. San Diego Union-Tribune, "2019 Boxster 718: preserving Porsche purity," 18 Aug. 2019 After five ta-pocketa-pocketa days and four cradle-swaying nights across a continent, the second-hardest part of the journey was recovering my land legs in Vancouver. Los Angeles Times, "On Canada’s Via Rail, a return to the older — and let’s be honest, better — way of traveling," 17 Aug. 2019 Another potential speed bump comes right after the Week 9 bye against NFC East heavyweights Philadelphia (in the cradle of friendliness) and then Dallas. Globe Staff,, "Here are the Globe staff’s predictions for the NFL season," 5 Sep. 2019 Here, in the cradle of the South, the women would be a part of one of the first pilot programs in the country to assess a seemingly simple solution to systemic poverty: giving people money — no strings attached. Robert Samuels, Washington Post, "$1,000 a month, no strings attached," 31 Aug. 2019 But can lounging in a low-slung cradle affect your sleep cycle or hurt your back? Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, "Is It Healthy to Sleep in a Hammock?," 1 July 2019 The community also came to be considered the cradle of Houston’s civil rights movement because of young people’s move to desegregate a lunch counter there in 1960. Melanie Eversley, Fortune, "Houston Hopes Thursday’s Democratic Debate at Historic Black University Drives Conversation," 10 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Afterward, in the mild June twilight, Britney held her diploma to her chest, cradling a bouquet of roses in her other arm., "ada Pierre is tiny, her ambition drawn taut as a bowstring. The 16-year-old daughter of Haitian immigrants wears her hair in a small bun atop her head, her emerging political consciousness finding its voice in the bevy of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo stickers she’s pasted to her MacBook.," 15 Sep. 2019 Days 3-6: Denali National Park Travel north to Denali National Park and Preserve, a remote and unspoiled wilderness cradling the icy summit of Denali, North America’s highest mountain. National Geographic, "Alaska Expedition: Wildlife, Fjords, and Glaciers," 10 Sep. 2019 One of New Zealand’s top lawmakers is getting international acclaim after he was filmed cradling a fellow lawmaker’s new baby during a debate in Parliament. Julia Webster, Time, "New Zealand House Speaker Feeds Lawmaker's Baby During Parliament Debate," 22 Aug. 2019 The last shot of the segment is of Leila cradling the memorial underwater, her face obscured by the deep-sea diving equipment, her arms hugging it close. E.h., The Economist, "A new documentary shows how attitudes to death are changing in America," 14 Aug. 2019 Lewis sat on the curb at Hart Plaza on Monday evening cradling her 17-month-old daughter August-Love while the two munched on popcorn and enjoyed some rare family time. Anna Bauman, Detroit Free Press, "As Detroit fireworks crowd builds, music and fun fill the air at Hart Plaza," 24 June 2019 Graham cradled her baby bump in the smoking hot number, which featured laser-cut designs by Denimcratic at the bust. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Ashley Graham Slays in a Feathered Naked Dress at BAZAAR ICONS," 7 Sep. 2019 In footage filmed by his cousin that was widely circulated later, al-Yousef, 29 years old at the time, is seen seated in the front seat of a van cradling his twins, holding them in each arm. Washington Post, "Syrian father who lost twins to poison gas uprooted again," 3 Sep. 2019 Smith cradled the ball, made a nice move and scored on a 41-yard play. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Football: Dawson’s fast start sinks Summer Creek, 44-20," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cradle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cradle


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for cradle


Middle English cradel, from Old English cradol; perhaps akin to Old High German kratto basket, Sanskrit grantha knot

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cradle

Statistics for cradle

Last Updated

1 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for cradle

The first known use of cradle was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cradle


How to pronounce cradle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cradle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a bed for a baby that is usually designed to rock back and forth when pushed gently
formal : the place where something begins
: something that is used to hold or support something else



English Language Learners Definition of cradle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hold (something or someone) gently in your arms or hands


cra·​dle | \ ˈkrā-dᵊl How to pronounce cradle (audio) \

Kids Definition of cradle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a baby's bed usually on rockers
2 : place of beginning the cradle of civilization
3 : the earliest period of life I was pampered from the cradle.
4 : a framework or support resembling a baby's bed in appearance or use a phone's cradle


cradled; cradling

Kids Definition of cradle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hold or support in or as if in a cradle She cradled my head in her arms.


cra·​dle | \ ˈkrād-ᵊl How to pronounce cradle (audio) \

Medical Definition of cradle

1 : a bed or cot for a baby usually on rockers or pivots
2a : a frame to keep the bedclothes from contact with an injured part of the body
b : a frame placed on the neck of an animal to keep it from biting an injury or sore

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on cradle

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


a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!