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

Another potential speed bump comes right after the Week 9 bye against NFC East heavyweights Philadelphia (in the cradle of friendliness) and then Dallas. Globe Staff,, "Here are the Globe staff’s predictions for the NFL season," 5 Sep. 2019 Here, in the cradle of the South, the women would be a part of one of the first pilot programs in the country to assess a seemingly simple solution to systemic poverty: giving people money — no strings attached. Robert Samuels, Washington Post, "$1,000 a month, no strings attached," 31 Aug. 2019 But can lounging in a low-slung cradle affect your sleep cycle or hurt your back? Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, "Is It Healthy to Sleep in a Hammock?," 1 July 2019 The community also came to be considered the cradle of Houston’s civil rights movement because of young people’s move to desegregate a lunch counter there in 1960. Melanie Eversley, Fortune, "Houston Hopes Thursday’s Democratic Debate at Historic Black University Drives Conversation," 10 Sep. 2019 The southern city is the cradle of the Garifuna, a culture born from the intermarriage of indigenous Caribbeans with West Africans who escaped slavery through a shipwreck on St. Vincent. Hadley Tomicki,, "Mother-daughter duo cook side-by-side at Belizean pop-up No Reservation L.A.," 12 July 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Smith cradled the ball, made a nice move and scored on a 41-yard play. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Football: Dawson’s fast start sinks Summer Creek, 44-20," 6 Sep. 2019 Shared on their joint account, the photo depicted the proud dad cradling his newborn son in his arms. Stephanie Petit,, "Meghan Markle Shares Never-Before-Seen Archie Photo in Sweet Birthday Message to Prince Harry," 15 Sep. 2019 All eyes were on a singular figure whose fingers drew music from the fiddle cradled in his hands. Lois Szymanski,, "Concert series brings fiddler, banjo sounds to Springfield Presbyterian Church," 19 Aug. 2019 Terra Hall weeps with relief, cradling her son Lenox after waiting nearly 15 minutes to hear his first cry. Los Angeles Times, "One more big push, then just say cheese!: High-end photographers enter delivery rooms," 16 Aug. 2019 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

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

4 Oct 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 wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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