cra·​dle | \ˈkrā-dᵊl \

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 , 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

For the uprising's supporters, Daraa had became known as the cradle of their revolution. Louisa Loveluck,, "Syrian army raises flag above city considered birthplace of uprising against Assad," 12 July 2018 That means affordable child care for families and real pathways of opportunity from cradle to career. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "Stacey Abrams’s victory speech, annotated," 23 May 2018 Hannah had cooked his meals and mended his clothing, and Lincoln had rocked their infant son to sleep in his cradle. Time, "The Sensational Murder Trial That Showed Off Abraham Lincoln's Skill as a Lawyer," 4 June 2018 Wilson was unwilling to compromise, and his all-or-nothing strategy with regard to the Senate and the Versailles treaty had the effect of strangling American participation in the peacekeeping league in its cradle. Richard Norton Smith, WSJ, "‘The Moralist’ Review: The High and Rocky Road," 19 Apr. 2018 And thanks to their signature snug, cradle-your-bottom cut, my backside never looked better (or more belfie worthy). Alice Bell, Vogue, "Becoming Meghan Markle: One Vogue Writer Puts Royal Fashion Protocol to the Test," 19 May 2018 For 74 years, under the guidance of the Abrego family, Presidio was our endearing golf cradle. Logan Jenkins,, "City stymies effort to restore Presidio Hills — for now," 22 Mar. 2018 Just two years ago, the median American born in the 1980s — the cradle of millennials — had family wealth that was 34% below what earlier generations held at the same age, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported last month. Ben Steverman,, "Young Americans are waking up to their grim financial future," 22 June 2018 Before being diagnosed with ALS in 2015 — severe weakness in the left hand that helped cradle so many Joe Montana passes was the first sign for a player who sustained multiple concussions — Clark had appeared to live something of a fairytale life. Scott Fowler, charlotteobserver, "One of Charlotte's greatest pro athletes has died. His signature play will live forever.," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Inexplicably, some critics are also taking issue with her habit of cradling her bump in nearly every photo she's posted on social media since announcing her pregnancy. Andrea Park, Allure, "Khloé Kardashian Just Called Out All the People Pregnancy-Shaming Her Right Now," 1 Mar. 2018 The Alpine whiskey glass is cradled in a sculpted piece of soapstone. New York Times, "A Cool Way to Chill Bourbon," 27 June 2018 Kate, looking impossibly stylish, cradled each newborn as the proud parents smiled for the cameras and then went back into the hospital before their final exit with the baby carrier. Erin Hill,, "See Prince George, Princess Charlotte and the New Royal Baby's Debut Photos Side-by-Side," 24 Apr. 2018 In his final hours of life, Jack's mother crawled into the hospital bed, and cradled her son's body. John Canzano,, "Canzano: How Portland lands a Major League Baseball team... expansion to relocation and back," 5 June 2018 Momager Kris Jenner was there too, cradling her granddaughter (Rob and Blac Chyna's child), Dream. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "North West and Penelope Disick Just Had the Most Extra Unicorn Birthday Party and We're Jealous," 4 June 2018 Prior to entering Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace for the ceremony, the Duke of Cambridge held Princess Charlotte and Prince George's hands, while the Duchess trailed behind cradling a precious sleeping Prince Louis in her arms. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Kate Middleton Cracked a Hilarious Parenting Joke at Prince Louis's Christening," 9 July 2018 Inside the fence, Mary sits on a wooden block, cradling baby Jesus in her arms as Joseph stands next to her looking down. Kristine Phillips, Washington Post, "A church put Jesus, Mary and Joseph in ‘ICE detention’ to protest Trump’s immigration policies," 3 July 2018 In another, the couple appears to be fully nude while JAY-Z cradles his wife in his arms. Maria Pasquini,, "Do Beyoncé and JAY-Z Pose Nude in New On the Run II Tour Book Photos?," 11 June 2018

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

1 Nov 2018

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

: 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 \

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 \

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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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).


to express warning or disapproval

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