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

The British cringed over new American accents, coinages and vulgarisms. Time, "Americans and Brits Have Been Fighting Over the English Language for Centuries. Here’s How It Started," 11 June 2019 And for my good neighbors who are Republicans and cringe at many of President Trump’s outbursts, their main concerns seem to be lower taxes, increasing military spending, stronger borders, education and less business regulation. WSJ, "Donald Trump Is Not the Average American," 29 Oct. 2018 The trees cringed, stuffing their ears with leaves. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "The Wolves," 2 Apr. 2018 The other Today hosts cringed, but Siri just took it in stride, cracking jokes and prepping the meal. Marie Milano, Country Living, "How Carson Daly and His Wife Siri Have Stuck Together in the Good Times and the Bad," 16 June 2019 Then, as if on cue, Mayfield fights for those meaningless rushing yards that make coaches cringe. Robert Klemko, SI.com, "How Baker Mayfield Compares to Russell Wilson," 23 Feb. 2018 But there must be a part of the players, as with Barkley, that cringed while thrashing Thailand. Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, "Hyde5: Rules make U.S. soccer run up score — so change the rules," 12 June 2019 Locals of the Far North cringed when tourists pulled out their lighters. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Planning a trip to California’s far north this summer? Read this first.," 7 June 2019 Viewers will cringe while watching the Pacers make their way off the court as fans hurl bottles, and even a chair, at them. Jemele Hill, The Atlantic, "The Turbulent Journey of Metta World Peace," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That formative, cringe-inducing time was filled with angst, cliques, and a whole lot of acne. Bonnie Stiernberg, Glamour, "I Wish Every Teen Girl Would Watch Hulu's PEN15," 10 Mar. 2019 Star of the upcoming movie Beautiful Boy, Carell is best known for his role as cringe-inducing but well-meaning Michael Scott on the NBC television sitcom The Office. Samantha Drake, Country Living, "How Steve and Nancy Carell Have Made Their Marriage Thrive for More Than Two Decades," 13 Oct. 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

22 Jul 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

Comments on cringe

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