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

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 Curry, a cradle Episcopalian (his father was an Episcopal priest), is often mistaken for a Baptist. Randall Balmer, Washington Post, "‘Love is the only way’: How a black preacher’s royal wedding address showed the power of a good sermon," 21 May 2018 During the 4-hour, 10 minute extravehicular activity, both astronauts attached tethers to their suits and worked with the cradle that supported the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, the first of its kind to launch. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "Astronaut Don Peterson, who performed first shuttle spacewalk, dead at 84," 29 May 2018 Not many parents, thank God, see a child lie in both his cradle and his coffin. Gayle Somers, WSJ, "Life Is Worth Living, Even if It Is Painful and Short," 21 Dec. 2018 Humanity’s cradle and its future among the stars share the vista. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA says it’s building a gateway to the Moon—critics say it’s just a gate," 6 Sep. 2018 In Henan, meeting spots closed, banners removed 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, The Seattle Times, "‘We must pay so dearly’: China’s churches raided, silenced," 7 Aug. 2018 Their first-to-market advantage could displace Silicon Valley and other U.S. tech cradles. Robert M. Mcdowell, WSJ, "To Boost 5G, Keep the Industry Free," 27 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The supermodel announced the news on Instagram, posting a photo of herself cradling her baby bump on the red carpet. Vogue, "Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel Are Expecting Their Second Child," 30 Mar. 2019 In many photos from the award show red carpet Travis and Kylie seem to be cradling her stomach in a very suspicious way. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "All the Signs That Kylie Jenner is Pregnant," 21 Mar. 2019 Josephine Karwah stepped out of the Ebola treatment unit and cradled her pregnant belly. Seema Yasmin, Scientific American, "From Liberia, Ebola Survivors Report They Are Still Afflicted with Disabling Symptoms," 27 July 2016 The first photo shows Kylie in a slinky sleeveless black dress while cradling her little girl's face. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Just Shared New Photos of Stormi Webster's Face Ahead of Her 21st Birthday," 9 Aug. 2018 But Velasquez fell to the grass and writhed in pain before leaving the field with his arm being cradled by head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan. Scott Lauber,, "Phillies pull out gutsy victory over Nationals to mark midpoint of the season," 30 June 2018 The clever heel lacing system keeps your foot locked in and eliminates sliding, while the anatomical footbed cradles your natural contours from the first step. Mandy Ferreira, Sunset, "10 Best Hiking Boots for Men," 22 Jan. 2018 As the Duke and Duchess walked along the jetty together, Meghan could be seen cradling her baby bump, while Harry clasped her other hand tightly. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Cradling Her Baby Bump on Fraser Island Is the Sweetest Thing You'll See All Day," 22 Oct. 2018 In the campaign, Harry Styles is seen cradling a baby pig and communing with a little lamb. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "Are Pigs the New It Pet? Ariana Grande and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele Say Yes," 28 Sep. 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

5 Apr 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

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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