\ 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

Synonyms for pinch

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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 To further pinch districts, in 2006 the legislature passed Act 1, which forbid school districts from raising property taxes beyond an index tied to wages. Peter Greene, Forbes, 23 Dec. 2021 Beaver, neither rich nor employed, lives with his decorator mother and passes the time accepting last-minute invitations to pinch-hit at lunches and dinners. Brenda Cronin, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2021 Called on to pinch-hit in the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Giambrone officially became a major-leaguer as Theresa and his girlfriend watched from the stands. Meghan Montemurro,, 27 Oct. 2021 The Astros opted to pinch-hit with Aledmys Diaz, who also struck out. Matt Young, Chron, 20 Oct. 2021 Roberts next sent Pollock to pinch-hit in Urías’ spot. Los Angeles Times, 20 Oct. 2021 The Giants sent up LaMonte Wade Jr., a force in the late innings all season, to pinch-hit. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 Oct. 2021 Pederson came on to pinch-hit in the bottom of the fifth for pitcher Ian Anderson with the score 0-0 and two on. Ray Glier, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2021 While the glue is wet, pinch and crimp the center of the felt strip with your fingertips. Bethany Kunzler, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Martin Maldonado drove in three runs, and Marwin Gonzalez came off the bench to pinch-hit and hit a single that drove in two runs, putting the Astros ahead for good. Harold Maass, The Week, 1 Nov. 2021 Bradley was included on Milwaukee’s NLDS roster but was utilized only as a pinch-runner in the four-game series. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1 Dec. 2021 He's started six games in center and the Reds deployed him as a pinch-runner. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, 29 Nov. 2021 The shortcoming was particularly obvious in the postseason when the team resorted to deploying Steven Souza Jr. as a pinch-hitter. Dylan Hernández Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2021 That quality was on full display in Game 5 when the Astros staved off elimination with a huge assist from pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez. Chron, 1 Nov. 2021 The celebration had barely simmered down when Soler, one of four outfielders acquired in trades by general manager Alex Anthopoulos, stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter. Creg Stephenson |, al, 31 Oct. 2021 The celebration had barely simmered down when Soler, one of four outfielders acquired in trades by general manager Alex Anthopoulos, stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter. NBC News, 31 Oct. 2021 Martin Maldonado found three different ways to drive in runs and pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez blooped a two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning for a 7-5 lead. Ben Walker, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Oct. 2021

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

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Last Updated

2 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pinch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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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)

: 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


transitive verb
\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on pinch

Nglish: Translation of pinch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pinch for Arabic Speakers


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