\ 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
c : deficit
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

grab, heist, rip-off, snatching, swiping, theft

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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


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.


the pinch of my favorite sweater really bugged me! an innocent person caught up in a city-wide pinch of drug dealers


A pinch homer won the game.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Like the Fates pinching the thread of life, a robotic arm unspooled a thin copper wire for a self-assembling satellite dish. Wired, "The Best Place to Make Undersea Cables Might Be ... in Space," 11 Sep. 2019 The financial meltdown of 2008 forced every major U.S. airline to squeeze more seats into each cabin and add fees for services that were previously included in airfares, but Spirit Airlines took the focus on pinching pennies to new heights. Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times, "Spirit Airlines tries to fix its image with comfier seats," 9 Sep. 2019 Canceling means losing your home sale and interest-rate lock, all thanks to penny-pinching over inspectors. Pat Kapowich, The Mercury News, "Sponsored: Buyer frugality can come at a cost, including endangering a purchase," 5 Sep. 2019 The government has also been trying to directly help small businesses slammed by both the trade war, which has hurt exports to the United States, and the debt reduction campaign, which has pinched lending. New York Times, "U.S.-China Trade War Hits a New Phase, and a Boot Maker Trembles," 31 Aug. 2019 Pants that pinch were resolved via hidden elastic fused into the back of each waistband. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Henning Is Bringing Size-Inclusivity to Your 9-to-5 Wardrobe," 29 Aug. 2019 There doesn't seem to be an end in sight for the U.S.-China trade war, which is also pinching U.S. companies exporting to China, the world's largest consumer market. Fortune, "Global Sportswear Brands Stepping Up China Exodus," 26 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Cabrera was pinch-hit for by John Hicks in the sixth inning. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers walloped by Cleveland Indians, 10-1, for 90th loss," 27 Aug. 2019 Getting in about 20 to 60 minutes a day is ideal, but even taking a minute to dance around the living room or tense all your muscles and then release them works in a pinch. Brittany Risher, Good Housekeeping, "Are You Suffering From Mom Burnout?," 26 Aug. 2019 This rover, about the size of two microbuses, can fit two passengers and gear comfortably, four in a pinch. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "What Would a 21st Century Moon Base Look Like?," 21 July 2019 Look for Boston to snag an AHL keeper who can push Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser in Providence, and pinch-hit if Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak were injured. Matt Porter,, "Bruins’ offseason business hits an early snag," 28 June 2019 But instead, Rasmus was pinch-hit for by Craig Gentry as the game's final out. Jon Meoli,, "Orioles give up two runs in eighth on Soto's double off Givens, lose to Nationals, 4-2," 22 June 2018 CF Leonys Martin was out of the lineup with a sore hamstring but pinch ran in the ninth inning. ... Dave Hogg,, "C.J. Cron, Brad Miller homer in ninth to lift Rays over Tigers 3-2," 30 Apr. 2018 Jake Slaughter pinch ran for Smith and then Daniel Cabrera came up with a two-RBI double to push the lead to 6-0. Andrew Lopez,, "A.J. Labas' complete game lifts LSU baseball over Lamar," 24 Apr. 2018 The veteran sat two consecutive games before playing in a pinch-hitting role Thursday. Johnny Rosenstein, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves odds, predictions, picks and best bets," 6 Sep. 2019

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

19 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pinch

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

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More Definitions for pinch



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pinch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pinch

Spanish Central: Translation of pinch

Nglish: Translation of pinch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pinch for Arabic Speakers

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