cringe

verb
\ ˈkrinj How to pronounce cringe (audio) \
cringed; cringing

Definition of cringe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to recoil in distaste Americans cringed … at the use of a term now regarded as a slur— William Safire
2 : to shrink in fear or servility The terrified animal cringed in the corner.
3 : to behave in an excessively humble or servile way beggars cringing to tourists for money
4 : to draw in or contract one's muscles involuntarily (as from cold or pain) … we cringe under the blasting wind …— Charles S. Houston

cringe

noun

Definition of cringe (Entry 2 of 2)

: a cringing act specifically : a servile bow

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Other Words from cringe

Verb

cringer noun

Synonyms for cringe

Synonyms: Verb

blench, flinch, quail, recoil, shrink, squinch, wince

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Choose the Right Synonym for cringe

Verb

fawn, toady, truckle, cringe, cower mean to behave abjectly before a superior. fawn implies seeking favor by servile flattery or exaggerated attention. waiters fawning over a celebrity toady suggests the attempt to ingratiate oneself by an abjectly menial or subservient attitude. toadying to his boss truckle implies the subordination of oneself and one's desires or judgment to those of a superior. truckling to a powerful lobbyist cringe suggests a bowing or shrinking in fear or servility. a cringing sycophant cower suggests a display of abject fear in the company of threatening or domineering people. cowering before a bully

Examples of cringe in a Sentence

Verb

Many English teachers cringe when their students use the word “ain't.” I always cringe when I hear that song. Just the thought of eating broccoli makes me cringe. The dog cringed at the noise.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Just saying the words can make people cringe, but Lee Ledbetter understands its potential. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "So This Is The Secret to Making a Modern Home Feel Cozy," 8 Mar. 2019 That’s all good news for Colts fans who cringed at the notion their bright, young star may never return to his pre-injury form following surgery. Michael Marot, The Seattle Times, "Luck to make start, may play most of 1st quarter at Seattle," 7 Aug. 2018 Even host Terry Crews cringed from the sidelines as people in the audience booed. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "'America's Got Talent' Star Mel B Got Booed After Criticizing Angelica Hale's Performance," 22 Jan. 2019 His advisers privately cringed at the talk, concerned that the president’s warnings and insults could escalate tensions with Mr. Kim, who is known to be thin-skinned, to the point of precipitating a nuclear crisis. New York Times, "Trump on Kim Jong-un: Once a ‘Madman,’ Now a ‘Very Honorable’ Leader," 10 May 2018 Part of being a Padres fan is cringing at the what-might-have-beens. Bryce Miller, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Lakers could contend sooner than you think; much work remains for Padres," 6 July 2018 Getty ImagesJames Devaney Ah, the holidays. At time for family, friends, copious amounts of baked goods, and classic songs that range from adorably corny to uncomfortably cringe-y. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Miley Cyrus Gives Christmas Classic "Santa Baby" a Much-Needed Feminist Update," 22 Dec. 2018 Three plays later, on third-and-10, McGahee got the ball—and what happened next still makes people cringe. Scott Tinley, SI.com, "An Oral History of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl Between Miami, Ohio State," 4 Jan. 2013 Republicans are cringing at the administration’s decision not to defend the health law’s preexisting condition provision. Brianna Labuskes, Washington Post, "The story must be told.," 15 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Game of Thrones Season 8, HBO, April 14 The final winter is coming, finally, to HBO, where Game of Thrones will wrap after eight years making us cringe, cry, and talk about dragons. Vogue, "9 Things to Watch in April on Netflix, HBO and More," 29 Mar. 2019 While some of the advice is cringe-worthy, there are a few tips and tricks that are applicable to modern marriages. Melissa Locker, Southern Living, "WATCH: Some 1950s Marriage Advice Is Still Really Valuable Today," 14 June 2018 That doesn’t make our high-handed dismissal of the group any less cringe-worthy. Jim Impoco, Newsweek, "The Beatles Suck. Yeah, We Said That," 3 Feb. 2014 In the hilariously cringe-y episode, 18-year-old Zac thinks that a canopy is a mosquito net, takes a swim in some girl's pool, stretches out one prospective date's pair of pumps, and plays a girl's guitar (horribly). Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "OMG, You Have to See 18-Year-Old Zac Efron on "Room Raiders"," 26 Apr. 2017 More-mature Americans, who didn’t learn their ABCs on an LCD screen, cringe at the prospect of an unwanted sofa hulking in their homes, and the anxiety of coordinating its removal. Catherine Romano, WSJ, "Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out," 13 Dec. 2018 But, those that monitor air quality cringe this time of year when smoke from fireworks causes a dangerous increase in particulate matter. Heloise, Houston Chronicle, "Don’t have a blast on the Fourth," 1 July 2018 Season 7, Episode 6 Consider Peep Show a kind of follow-up to Absolutely Fabulous, but with two bumbling Gen X bros; this New Year’s Eve episode is no exception to Mark and Jeremy’s usual cringe-worthy comedic antics. Vogue, "The Best New Year’s Eve–Theme Movies and TV Shows to Watch Tonight," 31 Dec. 2018 Just the thought of working through those impossible snarls is enough to make anyone cringe. Joane Amay, Allure, "These Tools Will Detangle Your Hair Ever So Gently," 17 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cringe.' 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 cringe

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Noun

1597, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cringe

Verb and Noun

Middle English crengen; akin to Old English cringan to yield, Middle High German krank weak

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Learn More about cringe

Dictionary Entries near cringe

crine

crined

crinet

cringe

cringeling

cringeworthy

cringey

Statistics for cringe

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cringe

The first known use of cringe was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for cringe

cringe

verb

English Language Learners Definition of cringe

: to feel disgust or embarrassment and often to show this feeling by a movement of your face or body
: to make a sudden movement from fear of being hit or hurt

cringe

verb
\ ˈkrinj How to pronounce cringe (audio) \
cringed; cringing

Kids Definition of cringe

1 : to shrink in fear : cower … when you see a dog cringe … You know somebody's been kicking at him.— Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Shiloh
2 : to show disgust or embarrassment at something He cringed at the suggestion of eating liver.

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More from Merriam-Webster on cringe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cringe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cringe

Spanish Central: Translation of cringe

Nglish: Translation of cringe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cringe for Arabic Speakers

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