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
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


She placed the phone back on its cradle. A number of ships were resting in their cradles in the shipyard.


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

Many of the more than 1,000 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails are accessible from Banff and the nearby hamlet of Lake Louise, cradle of that hypnotic indigo lake. John Briley, Washington Post, "Better than Banff? In British Columbia, Nelson is a contender," 20 June 2019 The Metropolitan Museum has once again brought us back to the Middle East—to a cradle of civilization that, by a cruel turn of history, has become a scene of hatred, destruction, and cold-blooded pillage. Peter Brown, The New York Review of Books, "Cities That Touched Heaven," 6 June 2019 At the epicenter of the drive to control the Christian community in China is Henan, the cradle of Chinese civilization and the entry point for many of the earliest foreign missionaries. Yanan Wang, Fox News, "Christian heartland opens window into fight for China's soul," 7 Aug. 2018 The victory speech served as a valediction for Woods, who had grown up in the corporate cradle of Buick’s sponsorship, and also for Michiganders who had considered a PGA Tour event in their state to be almost a birthright since 1958. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "How Detroit Golf Club landed the PGA Tour's Rocket Mortgage Classic," 23 June 2019 And most incidents of terrorism have occurred in the remote Sinai peninsula, rather than in the heavily populated Upper Egypt, which was a cradle of radical Islam during earlier generations. Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, "Mohamed Morsi, Who Brought the Muslim Brotherhood to the Egyptian Presidency," 19 June 2019 One school has been the cradle of the French establishment for decades, grooming future presidents, prime ministers and chief executives. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "Macron, a Star Graduate of France’s Elite School, Wants to Close Its Doors," 14 May 2019 Once it was secured to the cradle, the four graduate students popped out of the top hatch, perching on the vessel’s top to put their shoes on before climbing a ladder down to the barge. Katherine Long, The Seattle Times, "In a five-person submarine, scientists in Friday Harbor unravel the mysteries of the Salish Sea," 16 Sep. 2018 Gattis entered a jubilant dugout, received a pat on his rear end from manager A.J. Hinch before catching Tony Kemp to cradle, hugs for another home run from a white hot white bear. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Evan Gattis' grand slam lifts Astros over Royals," 15 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The other portrait is a closer, outdoor shot of a blissful Archie being cradled by Meghan and Harry. Vogue, "See New, Adorable Portraits of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s Christening," 6 July 2019 The perfect home base for national parks such as Zion and Arches, Salt Lake City is cradled by two different mountain ranges and has plenty of nearby activities for the outdoor-obsessed. Jennifer Barger, National Geographic, "Today I'm Obsessed With ...," 22 June 2019 Moses Sumney Moses Sumney’s songs ache for connection yet often end up lonely, his otherworldly falsetto cradled by slow-motion R&B grooves. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "At Moogfest, Electronics Stimulate Ears and Emotions," 21 May 2018 The upper part of the shoe is a flexible, breathable knit, and my heel felt cradled by the shoe and locked in place. The Si Staff,, "The Best Women's Running Shoes 2017," 14 Mar. 2017 After acting, direction and production, Bollywood star Ajay Devgn is cradling a new venture in the film world: exhibition. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn is investing in small-town India’s cinema-going experience," 18 June 2019 However, an intense flashback suggests otherwise: a young, terrified Jack wearing tactical gear is shown cradling someone bloodied in his arms, in what appears to be a battle scene. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'This Is Us' Fans Have the Most Heartbreaking Theory About Jack's Brother Nicky," 26 Sep. 2018 Especially helpful were rare instances of X-ray images of the same painting with and without cradling, crucially important for verifying our computational results. Quanta Magazine, "Using Mathematics to Repair a Masterpiece," 29 Sep. 2016 Repin’s canvas depicts the sixteenth-century tsar cradling his son, Tsarevitch Ivan, moments after murdering him. Noah Sneider, Harper's magazine, "Slash Fictions," 10 May 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.

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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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Statistics for cradle

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cradle

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on cradle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cradle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cradle

Spanish Central: Translation of cradle

Nglish: Translation of cradle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cradle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cradle

Comments on cradle

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characterized by aphorism

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