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

These policies have helped turn Colorado into a cradle for business development. Special To The Denver Post, The Denver Post, "Guest commentary: Colorado’s economy is on display, and now it must meet the challenges brought on by success," 30 Aug. 2019 From cradle to school Children of wealthy Athenians in the later fifth century B.C. would typically spend their early years at home. Raquel López, National Geographic, "Did sons and daughters get the same education in ancient Greece?," 28 Aug. 2019 Respect the language and carry cash As the cradle of French civilization in North America, the province of Quebec does almost everything in French — menus, road signs and local conversations. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "First time in Montreal? Here are 5 things you should do," 21 Aug. 2019 For the uprising’s supporters, Daraa had became known as the cradle of their revolution. Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post, "Syrian army raises flag above city considered as birthplace of uprising against Assad," 12 July 2018 The displays include a cradle commissioned for Princess Louise, Victoria and Albert’s sixth child, and drawings made by Victoria after her coronation at 19. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, "Hail, Victoria: Britain celebrates the Queen’s 200th birthday in grand style," 18 July 2019 The loss did not hurt Jericho, as Okada used a cradle pinfall to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (the same finish was used in the first fall of Okada’s best-of-three falls match against Kenny Omega last June). Justin Barrasso,, "Undertaker-Goldberg Was the Nadir of an Eventful Weekend in Wrestling," 10 June 2019 Men who preyed on younger women were called letches, cradle-robbers, dogs. Jill Ciment, Harper's magazine, "Then Again," 10 June 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Another image, shared to Graham’s Instagram Story, showed her and her husband grinning widely and cradling her baby bump while director Ervin, 30, holds up an ultrasound photo. Jen Juneau,, "Pregnant Ashley Graham Shows Off Her Baby Bump One Day After Announcing First Child on the Way," 15 Aug. 2019 The tides that pulled him and Kristentogether are the same that cradle him now. Dominic Umile, Los Angeles Times, "Review: A lover of surfing, AJ Dungo finds connection and solace in ‘In Waves’," 9 Aug. 2019 The ball found its way to Petitbon, who cradled it in to clinch the 14-10 victory. Will Larkin,, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 41, Richie Petitbon," 27 July 2019 Gets it back, cradles it, and throws it again to the kid. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Luck's health, love affair between Colts and fans steal show from training camp," 25 July 2019 A few minutes later, April takes Genea's right hand and cradles it in both of hers. Mark Curnutte,, "4 addresses in 4 months: This is what poverty looks like for this Cincinnati family," 10 July 2019 And then Houghton shot low and straight and soft, and Alyssa Naeher gathered the ball up, clinging onto it, cradling it close to her stomach. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Ruthless. Relentless. Victorious.," 2 July 2019 An unmarked car with law enforcers, including one officer cradling a rifle in the back seat, drove past and was waved through by police manning the intersection. Washington Post, "Witnesses: Frantic effort to save officer who was run over," 23 May 2018 Cas enzymes then take up one of the RNA molecules and cradle it. Quanta Magazine, "Breakthrough DNA Editor Born of Bacteria," 6 Feb. 2015

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

6 Sep 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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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