\ 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

Sitting in the restaurant, Litwin pinches his arm through his shirtsleeve. Soumya Karlamanglastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "He went to jail as a fake doctor. Now he’s a real one: The saga of Adam Litwin, MD," 7 Aug. 2019 During the workshop different approaches to pinch, coil and slab construction will be explored. La Cañada Valley Sun, "La Cañada area events," 30 July 2019 But Dollar General's reliance on selling cheap consumables has pinched its profit. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, "Dollar General has a new strategy to win wealthier shoppers," 11 July 2019 As a retired college pastry chef, Sharp felt pinched financially. USA Today, "Seniors were sold a risk-free retirement with reverse mortgages. Now they face foreclosure.," 12 June 2019 But the creeping cost of housing is pinching a middle class already struggling with flat wages, rising child care costs, and the skyrocketing price tag of a four-year college degree. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Hey, middle class, the housing crisis is coming for you next," 11 June 2019 Ant bodies pinch to almost nothing at the waist, their antenna are crooked, and winged ants have two sets of wings that are different lengths. Ellen Nibali,, "Despite their name, groundhogs can climb, and how to tell an ant from a termite," 6 June 2019 Then Brayden Newberry hit a fly ball to right field, but the ball was dropped, sending Simonds and pinch-runner Dane Goodwin home for the game’s first runs. Manny Alvarez, Daily Pilot, "Ocean View Little League nearly throws combined no-hitter in SoCal state tournament win over Claremont," 22 July 2019 But this mask was great, and never squeezed or pinched. Madison Roberts,, "What We're Loving: Editor-Tested Travel Accessories That Will Change the Way You Pack," 11 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the bottom of the inning, Jace Peterson pinch-hit for Davis and Renato Nunez took over at first base. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Chris Davis, manager Brandon Hyde scuffle in Baltimore Orioles dugout," 7 Aug. 2019 Turner pinch-hit for Negron and also sent a grounder to Fernando Tatis Jr., who threw home to get Pollock. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Dodgers beat Padres in ninth," 4 Aug. 2019 Gerardo Parra, the former Rockies outfielder, made Shaw pay with a pinch-hit, two-out double. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Daniel Murphy lifts Rockies to comeback win over Nationals," 25 July 2019 This time, those assets are born anew as a co-op campaign (which can be played alone, in a pinch). Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Wolfenstein Youngblood review: In my day, we called this an expansion pack," 25 July 2019 Julien, who had been pinch-hit for late in the regular season, clobbered a home run deep into the Omaha night. Sam Blum |,, "Auburn collapses in 9th inning, loses 5-4 to Mississippi State," 17 June 2019 Rookie Thairo Estrada had a pinch-hit, three-run double in the Yankees’ game-breaking inning. Larry Fleisher, The Seattle Times, "Gardner, Yankees take advantage of walks, rout Rays 13-5," 19 May 2019 Núñez has just one inning at third base this year, coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter May 18 in Cleveland and staying in the game at third base. Jon Meoli,, "In 100th game of season, Orioles give Renato Núñez first start of season at third base: ‘He’s earned it’," 24 July 2019 But Bumgarner struck out pinch-hitter David Bote on his 102nd pitch to end the seventh and received a standing ovation from many of the 39,747 fans. Mark Gonzales,, "Giants hand Cubs their 3rd straight loss with Pablo Sandoval’s 13th-inning home run," 24 July 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

10 Aug 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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