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 cradle (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
b : shelter, rear
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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On the floor behind her was a cradle with a little child. Hilton Als, The New Yorker, "Tove Ditlevsen’s Art of Estrangement," 8 Feb. 2021 Since 2010, more than $430 million in multiyear grants designed to foster cradle-to-career systems to combat generational poverty has been awarded in 17 cities. Washington Post, "As Harlem Children’s Zone moves to export its model nationwide, other city programs offer cautionary tales," 11 Dec. 2020 This Jesus in the cradle poses no threat to our life styles and cultural ideologies. The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis "lou" Piel,, "Piel: Can Christmas be celebrated without Jesus? | RELIGION COMMENTARY," 4 Dec. 2020 Reynolds’ cradle-to-grave biography, 1,000-plus pages long, is the more monumental as well as the more reverential. Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor, "Lincoln brought strength of character – and backwoods wit – to governing," 29 Oct. 2020 The one-hand cradle of a pass thrown high in his strike zone left even the CBS broadcasting crew speechless just before halftime in the 55-17 blowout at LSU. Michael Casagrande |, al, "Mac Jones recalls the history behind DeVonta Smith’s 1-handed catch," 7 Dec. 2020 Early ideas for this setting were inspired by the art and architecture of ancient Greece, the cradle of Western philosophy, and world’s fair exhibitions, but those references seemed too culturally specific. John Jurgensen, WSJ, "How Pixar Brings ‘Soul’ and Existential Ideas to Life," 23 Dec. 2020 Something about the ever-increasing risk of fire and her anger at what had been done to her culture, the prospect of her children’s babies being raised without a traditional basket cradle, and her own forceful personality came together. Kiliii Yüyan, History & Culture, "‘There’s good fire and bad fire.’ An Indigenous practice may be key to preventing wildfires," 17 Dec. 2020 Those 13 billion tests help drive approximately two-thirds of all medical decisions made by your doctor and other health care professionals from cradle to grave. Rodney E. Rohde, The Conversation, "Who is doing all those COVID-19 tests? Why you should care about medical laboratory professionals," 14 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The sports arenas — one longtime home to dreams of glory, the other honoring the legacy of a basketball hero — will now cradle hope that the tide will soon turn against COVID-19. John Hilliard,, "As Phase 2 begins, Fenway Park and Reggie Lewis Center on the front lines against COVID-19," 31 Jan. 2021 Memory foam mattresses cradle the body in cozy, cushioning comfort, and the Casper Element mattress is no exception. Better Homes & Gardens, "10 Affordable Mattresses Backed by Thousands of Reviews," 22 Jan. 2021 The reports came Monday, after the Daily Mail posted pictures of Stone appearing to cradle her baby bump while out walking. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "Emma Stone expecting first child with comedian Dave McCary: Reports," 5 Jan. 2021 Look for shoes that have a deep heel cup to cradle your heels, a foam insole, and a deep toe box. Jillian Kramer, Glamour, "The 28 Best Walking Shoes for Women, No Matter Where You’re Headed This Winter," 30 Nov. 2020 For those of us who like to cradle up into a fetal position at night, Lindsey found that Beckham Hotel Collection's gel pillows were among the best of the best—especially considering the affordable price point. Melissa Lee, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Thursday," 6 Nov. 2020 Big cottonwood trees cradle the southern toe of the water and wrap around Granite Creek. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, "5 of the best fall hikes in Arizona: Here's how to explore these less crowded trails," 14 Oct. 2020 These stools cradle you during lunch prep, fine dining—and the odd Zoom meeting. House Beautiful, "Mark Cunningham Creates a Chef's Dream Kitchen," 18 Sep. 2020 The latex inside is solid (not shredded) and the brand says it's designed to cradle your head and neck, so this one's best suited for side and back sleepers. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, "10 Best Pillows of 2020, According to Bedding Experts," 14 Sep. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for cradle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for cradle

Last Updated

20 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cradle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for cradle



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

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