\ ˈpinch How to pronounce pinch (audio) \
pinched; pinching; pinches

Definition of pinch

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to squeeze between the finger and thumb or between the jaws of an instrument
b : to prune the tip of (a plant or shoot) usually to induce branching
c : to squeeze or compress painfully
d : to cause physical or mental pain to
e(1) : to cause to appear thin, haggard, or shrunken
(2) : to cause to shrivel or wither
2a : to subject to strict economy or want : straiten
b : to restrain or limit narrowly : constrict
3a : steal
b : arrest
4 : to sail too close to the wind

intransitive verb

2 : to be miserly or closefisted
3 : to press painfully
4 : narrow, taper the road pinched down to a trail— Cecelia Holland
pinch pennies
: to practice strict economy



Definition of pinch (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a critical juncture : emergency
2a : an act of pinching : squeeze
b : as much as may be taken between the finger and thumb a pinch of snuff
c : a very small amount
3 : a marked thinning of a vein or bed
4a : theft
b : a police raid also : arrest



Definition of pinch (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : substitute pinch runner
2 : hit by a pinch hitter a pinch homer

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Synonyms for pinch

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for pinch


juncture, exigency, emergency, contingency, pinch, strait (or straits) crisis mean a critical or crucial time or state of affairs. juncture stresses the significant concurrence or convergence of events. an important juncture in our country's history exigency stresses the pressure of restrictions or urgency of demands created by a special situation. provide for exigencies emergency applies to a sudden unforeseen situation requiring prompt action to avoid disaster. the presence of mind needed to deal with emergencies contingency implies an emergency or exigency that is regarded as possible but uncertain of occurrence. contingency plans pinch implies urgency or pressure for action to a less intense degree than exigency or emergency. come through in a pinch strait, now commonly straits, applies to a troublesome situation from which escape is extremely difficult. in dire straits crisis applies to a juncture whose outcome will make a decisive difference. a crisis of confidence

Examples of pinch in a Sentence

Verb My little brother is always trying to pinch me. He pinched her cheeks and told her how cute she was. Pinch together the edges of the dough. He pinched the top of his nose to stop the bleeding and leaned forward. He pinched off the top of the shoots. She pinched back the new growth. These new shoes are pinching my toes. I pinched my fingers in the door. By pinching and scraping, she managed to save enough money to buy a new car. Noun the pinch of my favorite sweater really bugged me! an innocent person caught up in a city-wide pinch of drug dealers Adjective A pinch homer won the game.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Shape the knish by lifting and pinching together the edges of the dough. Washington Post, "A lighter and prettier potato knish for your holiday table — and beyond," 17 Sep. 2019 The proposal was met with derision by the Blue and White alliance, which claimed that he's pinched its idea. Sam Kiley, CNN, "Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign has an air of desperation as Israeli election polls tighten," 13 Sep. 2019 While income has barely inched upwards during the past two decades, costs for essentials such as health care and housing has soared, pinching budgets for many Americans. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Americans' income barely inching up despite economic growth," 10 Sep. 2019 The briefs stayed hidden and did not pinch my sides or ride up my butt. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "We Tried Kim Kardashian's SKIMS Shapewear Line—Here Are Our Thoughts," 10 Sep. 2019 Folding half and pinch ends together, keeping upper portion rounded for cat’s back. Megan Fulweiler, Woman's Day, "Black Cat Clay Decorations," 9 Sep. 2019 For each square, bring the 4 corners of the dough up around the apple and pinch the corners and sides of the dough together. Robin Mather,, "New ‘Joy of Cooking’ is a masterwork that will erase any reservations about past editions," 9 Sep. 2019 The Bruins surrendered the lead with 6:59 left, Vladar unable to stop a power-play one-timer from the lower left circle by pinching defenseman Connor Carrick., "NEWARK — The Devils dropped the Bruins, 4-3 in overtime, in the preseason opener for both teams.," 17 Sep. 2019 But others asked why the budget was quite so pinched. The Economist, "India’s government is pouring money into dung," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Myles Straw seems likely to occupy one as a pinch-runner. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Debate is up for final spot on Astros' ALDS roster," 11 Sep. 2019 And there was one significant reason for the A’s to bemoan their Saturday evening at the ballpark — the sight of Ramon Laureano hobbling into second base, then solemnly leaving the game for a pinch runner. Ron Kroichick,, "A’s roll to victory, but Laureano leaves with cramp in troublesome leg," 7 Sep. 2019 On July 21, 1959, Pumpsie Green made his major league debut as an eighth-inning pinch-runner with the Boston Red Sox, then played shortstop to finish the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. Richard Goldstein, New York Times, "Pumpsie Green, First Black Player for Boston Red Sox, Dies at 85," 17 July 2019 Toby Welk singled and was balked to second base, where Zach Watson came on as a pinch runner. Randy Mcroberts,, "IronBirds rally in 9th, walk-off for sweep over Williamsport," 16 July 2019 Eaton, also a freshman, was primarily used as a pinch-runner. Sam Blum |,, "Four Auburn baseball players enter transfer portal," 24 June 2019 Ballentine entered as a pinch runner and reached third after Joel Holtcamp hit a ground ball to third, leading to a high throw and a collision at first. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "IHSAA baseball: Andrean walks off against Edgewood for second straight state title," 18 June 2019 He was lifted for a pinch-runner before Guzmán grounded into a game-ending double play. Stephen Hawkins, The Seattle Times, "Cardinals get 1st win over Rangers since 2011 World Series," 18 May 2019 First, Anthony Rizzo’s two-out double on a full-count slider off the plate from Hand scored pinch-runner Jason Heyward from first base to tie the game 4-4. Kevin Acee,, "Things fall apart quickly for Padres in loss to Cubs," 13 July 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1912, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pinch


Middle English, from Anglo-French *pincher, pincer

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Statistics for pinch

Last Updated

2 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for pinch

The first known use of pinch was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for pinch


How to pronounce pinch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pinch

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to squeeze (someone's skin) between your thumb and finger often in a painful way
: to squeeze or press (something) together with your thumb and finger
: to remove (part of a plant) by squeezing with your thumb and finger



English Language Learners Definition of pinch (Entry 2 of 3)

: the act of pinching someone or something
: the amount of something that can be held between your finger and thumb



English Language Learners Definition of pinch (Entry 3 of 3)

US, baseball
: used as a substitute for another player
: made by a pinch hitter


\ ˈpinch How to pronounce pinch (audio) \
pinched; pinching

Kids Definition of pinch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to squeeze between the finger and thumb or between the jaws of an instrument My aunt pinched my cheeks.
2 : to squeeze painfully I pinched my finger in a door.
3 : to break off by squeezing with the thumb and fingers Pinch off a bit of dough.
4 : to cause to look thin or shrunken … I saw Dad run toward me with his face all pinched with anger.— Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Loses Control
pinch pennies
: to be thrifty or stingy



Kids Definition of pinch (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a time of emergency He always helps out in a pinch.
2 : an act of squeezing skin between the thumb and fingers
3 : as much as may be picked up between the finger and the thumb : a very small amount a pinch of salt
\ ˈpinch How to pronounce pinch (audio) \

Medical Definition of pinch

: to squeeze or compress (a part of the body) usually in a painful or discomforting way a pinched nerve caused by entrapment

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More from Merriam-Webster on pinch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pinch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pinch

Spanish Central: Translation of pinch

Nglish: Translation of pinch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pinch for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pinch

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


not being in agreement or harmony

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