\ 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 That includes a larger radiator, Brembo six-piston front calipers that pinch bigger 15.0-inch brake rotors, a Torsen limited-slip differential with shorter 3.73:1 gears, and a stiffer rear anti-roll bar. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, "Our Ford Mustang Bullitt Remains a Lovable Steed Through an Unlovable Season," 16 Mar. 2020 Now casinos are feeling pinched as patrons shy away from handling chips, cash, slot machines and playing cards. Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, "All bets are off: Casinos grinding to a halt over coronavirus," 16 Mar. 2020 DeAngelo pinches down the wall, Panarin covers him up top. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Film study: Could the Stars defensemen be the key to unlocking more offense?," 14 Mar. 2020 Tumbling stocks leave Americans feeling pinched The tumbling stock market also could play a role by making Americans feel less wealthy, prompting a pullback in both consumer and business spending, Sweet says. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "The odds of recession are rising but market sell-off doesn't mean it's inevitable," 9 Mar. 2020 Position the bobber on the fishing line several feet above a bait hook, and pinch on a split shot or two between hook and bobber. Bob Mcnally, Field & Stream, "The 8 Best Live Bait Rigs for Crappie Fishing," 4 Mar. 2020 Step 3 Barely fold in half and pinch one end to create a petal shape. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Easy Flower Cupcakes," 19 Feb. 2020 More ravioli-esque than actual ravioli, agnolotti have a slight curve and pinch in the back wall. Bon Appétit, "92 Cooking Projects to Keep You Busy and Extremely Well Fed," 19 Mar. 2020 There is likely no threat of being pinched for not wearing green today because most of America is bringing in St. Patrick’s Day from home. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "Here are 7 hilarious St. Patrick’s Day memes to get you through this wild time," 17 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Some worry that this would be a dramatic change for a service that has proudly served as a jack-of-all-trades for presidents in a pinch. The Economist, "Send the Marines," 31 Mar. 2020 The question is whether such a man is someone the Israelis could count on in a pinch. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "The Democrats’ Israel Problem," 2 Mar. 2020 The Timbers also have Ebobisse, a reliable workhorse who is best as a striker, but can play wide in a pinch. oregonlive, "Portland Timbers add firepower to attack, but defensive questions remain: 2020 season preview," 29 Feb. 2020 But this on-the-go snack delivers quality food in a pinch. Sunset Magazine, "The 99 Pantry Items We Can’t Live Without, from the Ultimate Olive Oil to Heirloom Turmeric," 25 Feb. 2020 This is Ehlinger’s team to lead and Thompson is poised to step up in a pinch. Nick Moyle,, "Eight Texas early enrollees, including Hudson Card, who could make an impact in 2020," 16 Jan. 2020 But in a pinch, body wipes like the Yuni Shower Sheets will do the trick. Christa Joanna Lee, Teen Vogue, "How to Get Rid of Acne: 21 Skin Care Tips from Dermatologists," 9 Jan. 2020 Standard Plan memberships can provide bite-sized blurbs, which are valuable time savers in a pinch. Benjamin Levin, CNN Underscored, "Save time and read more with these bite-sized book summaries," 11 Dec. 2019 These little gadgets make terrific stocking stuffers and are real lifesavers in a pinch when someone either needs to build a fire or light the grill because a stadium bratwurst sounds really, really good while watching a football game. Ben Romans, Outdoor Life, "Early Black Friday Deals on Outdoor Gear," 26 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for pinch

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pinch

Last Updated

5 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pinch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

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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

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