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

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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 clear days, especially after monsoon season, when the city’s rooftops are dotted with people, kites speckle the sky, their threads forming an invisible cat’s cradle overhead. Oliver Whang, New York Times, "Meet the Bird Medics of New Delhi," 10 Feb. 2020 Fire hurts many plants, but mushrooms spend most of their time under the soil surface, hiding out in vast mycelial networks that make the internet look like cat’s cradle (some people call this network the Wood Wide Web). Heather Arndt Anderson, Sunset Magazine, "The West Had a Fiery Summer and Fall. How Will Plants Rebound This Spring?," 31 Jan. 2020 The baby’s cradle was a plastic vegetable crate, lined with blankets, hung from a water pipe in the ceiling, free to swing. Lydia Wilson, The New York Review of Books, "Among Syria’s Exiles in Jordan," 8 Jan. 2020 Nevertheless, the inability of women to enjoy the same rights enjoyed by male citizens marked their lives from cradle to grave. National Geographic, "In ancient Rome, citizenship was the path to power," 4 Nov. 2019 Sitting on the fringe of the Taklamakan Desert, Yarkand remains a cultural cradle for Uighurs, a mostly Muslim minority in China’s far western Xinjiang region. Chris Buckley, New York Times, "Battered but Resilient After China’s Crackdown," 18 Jan. 2020 One girl dives upside down, beaming, into a cradle of outstretched arms, then flings herself back upright into perfect stillness atop the shoulders of a girl who’s standing on another cheerleader’s shoulders. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "The Pathos of “Cheer” and the Wild Deceptions of Cheerleading," 16 Jan. 2020 Educators will be able to highlight some of the museum's artifacts by showing visitors reindeer antlers, pelts, clothing, a sled and harness, and a cradle used by the indigenous Sami people from northern Scandinavia. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Meet Door County Sled Dogs, see how spiders survive winter and learn about indigenous cultures at Milwaukee Public Museum's Snow Day," 7 Jan. 2020 Sub Urban, born Danny Maisonneuve, sits in a cradle engulfed in flames as the demonic sequence of events begin. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Sub Urban's 'Cradles' Music Video Is a Nightmare Come to Life: Watch," 9 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Plush cushioning cradles your Achilles and reduces hot spots on long days full of walking around town (or, perhaps, on trails). Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, "We Found Six Great Boots at Outdoor Retailer for Every Winter Adventure," 5 Feb. 2020 In the first image, Edwards adoringly cradles baby Stella as Standifer wraps her arm around her husband and sweetly gazes at the baby girl. Natalie Stone,, "Teen Mom OG's Ryan Edwards and Wife Mackenzie Standifer Welcome Daughter Stella Rhea," 13 Jan. 2020 But in the 17th century, Bagheria, cradled on a gentle slope between mountains and sea, was the summer retreat of nobility from nearby Palermo—a place where lush gardens of bougainvillea and jasmine surrounded graceful neoclassical villas. Ros Belford, Condé Nast Traveler, "Take Over an Entire 18th-Century Mansion On Your Next Trip to Sicily," 14 Nov. 2019 Competitors cradled the embers inside their fingers, like fireflies. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "At Cigar Smoking Worlds, the Best Always Finish Last," 29 Oct. 2019 The poached egg cradled in the heart of a plate of salade aux lardons mixes, when broken, with the drippings of crisp, thick lardons to slather the greens with an impromptu vinaigrette. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "3 new metro Phoenix restaurants to try in January for tacos, Hawaiian BBQ and French fare," 3 Jan. 2020 Some pleasures, like the newborn cradled in one’s arms, are universal. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: One can be thankful for much even amid pessimism," 1 Dec. 2019 Arriving with a shotgun over one arm and Little Finn cradled in his other, Skrant was eager to introduce the pup to his first mourning dove. D'arcy Egan, cleveland, "Finnegan, an eager Brittany pup, displays his heritage in dove hunting field — D’Arcy Egan," 21 Sep. 2019 Sarah Navarro, 33, cradled the newborn Wednesday morning beside her husband, Robert Navarro, also 33, and their 2-year-old son, Theodore, at Methodist Children’s Hospital. Vincent T. Davis,, "San Antonio’s first baby of the year born 25 seconds after midnight," 1 Jan. 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

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cradle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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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

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