\ 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 patients underwent single or multiple nerve transfers in one or both upper limbs, to allow the elbow to extend and the hand to grasp, pinch and open. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Paralyzed man regains use of hands thanks to innovative nerve surgery," 4 July 2019 The nostrils look collapsed or the tip of the nose looks uncomfortably pinched. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "5 Questions You Should Ask Before Deciding To Undergo Plastic Surgery," 2 July 2019 Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss corn, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, and pinch salt. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Southwest Steak Wraps," 1 July 2019 But if the fairways get pinched in a little more and the rough grows a little higher and the greens run a tad faster, there should still be decent scores. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Here's what the Rocket Mortgage Classic got right — and what it got wrong," 30 June 2019 Mums and asters will bloom in summer unless the flower buds are pinched or cut. Betty Cahill, The Denver Post, "Ten tips to ensure a healthy lawn during a Colorado summer," 27 June 2019 Voices were raised, pearls were clutched, and faces went red and pinched with anger. Christopher Muther,, "How a botched cruise turned into a free trip to Tahiti," 25 June 2019 How to Fold a T-Shirt Folding a t-shirt is as easy as pinching three points on the fabric and giving it a shake. Selena Barrientos, House Beautiful, "How to Fold a Shirt, from the Pinch Method to the Chest Fold," 24 June 2019 But the sector is also pinched by rising minimum wages and healthcare costs, and employers are seeking more flexible work arrangements that respond to the ebbs and flows of their businesses. Abha Bhattarai,, "Now hiring for one day: Retailers are embracing the gig economy," 4 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Burbank offense also received efforts from pinch-hitter Joselyn Recelle with a home run in her first at bat in the fifth inning and two RBIs. Vincent Nguyen,, "Burbank Senior Little League softball All-Stars reel in state title," 10 July 2019 Left-hander Tim Mayza came on and retired pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez, but Christian Vazquez walked and Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in a run with a fielder's choice. Ian Harrison,, "In a pinch, Marco Hernandez delivers win for Red Sox," 5 July 2019 Gray walked the next batter, pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal, on four pitches. Bobby Nightengale,, "Sonny Gray's dominant start carries Cincinnati Reds to win over Milwaukee Brewers," 4 July 2019 The Orioles scored their first run of the ninth without a hit, as pinch-hitter Anthony Santander walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Rio Ruiz, who hit a three-run homer in the fourth for his first longball since May 16. Nathan Ruiz,, "Six-run ninth, All-Star performance from John Means give Orioles 9-6 win over Rays," 3 July 2019 His last home run came as a pinch-hitter for the Padres in the eighth inning of a 2-1 loss to the Giants. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "A grand entrance: Alex Dickerson arrives in style, crushes D’backs in Giants debut," 21 June 2019 Could be kind of a birdie hole, but the bunkers pinch in, making the drive a little more interesting. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic: Hole-by-hole breakdown at Detroit Golf Club," 26 June 2019 Yolmer Sanchez pinch ran for Moncada and went to second, with Rondon moving to third. Paul Sullivan,, "Tim Anderson is headed to the injured list with a high ankle sprain; Yoan Moncada suffers a bruised knee," 26 June 2019 With a projected 23 cents a gallon gas tax hike in 2021, Oregonians would definitely feel a pinch but the impact would depend upon how much a family drives. Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Oregon Senate Republicans’ walkout over climate vote: the 8 things you need to know to understand the standoff," 24 June 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

13 Jul 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

Comments on pinch

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a small bunch of flowers

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