1

cringe

verb \ ˈkrinj \

Definition of cringe

cringed; cringing
intransitive verb
1 :to draw in or contract one's muscles involuntarily (as from cold or pain)
  • … we cringe under the blasting wind …
  • —Charles S. Houston
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 recoil in distaste
  • Americans cringed … at the use of a term now regarded as a slur
  • —William Safire

cringer

noun

Examples of cringe in a Sentence

  1. Many English teachers cringe when their students use the word “ain't.”

  2. I always cringe when I hear that song.

  3. Just the thought of eating broccoli makes me cringe.

  4. The dog cringed at the noise.

Recent Examples of cringe from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of cringe

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

Synonym Discussion of cringe

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

2

cringe

noun

Definition of cringe

:a cringing act; specifically :a servile bow

Recent Examples of cringe from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of cringe


CRINGE Defined for English Language Learners

cringe

verb

Definition of cringe for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

cringe

verb \ ˈkrinj \

Definition of cringe for Students

cringed; cringing
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.


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to suppress quietly or indirectly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!