\ 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 For each bagel, roll 4 ounces Homemade Pizza Dough into a 10-inch rope, then pinch ends together to form ring. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Everything Bagels," 22 Dec. 2020 Oil prices also retreated amid expectations that fresh restrictions on European travel and transport will pinch fuel demand heading into 2021. Alexander Osipovich, WSJ, "Stocks Mostly Finish Lower Amid Fresh Covid-19 Travel Restrictions," 21 Dec. 2020 Roll the spine edge up and over once, then moisten the two points on each side, bring them together, and pinch to seal. Washington Post, "Vegetarian wontons are a delight to eat in this light, fragrant soup," 20 Dec. 2020 Use the mouse scroll wheel or pinch your trackpad to zoom. David Nield, Popular Science, "Use Google Earth and Street View to explore the planet from your couch," 18 Dec. 2020 Fold ends of puff pastry like a present to cover ends and pinch to seal and folding underneath. Kate Merker, Good Housekeeping, "Beef Wellington," 3 Dec. 2020 Almora, who pinch ran for Schwarber in Game 7 against the Indians and advanced to second on a deep fly to center before scoring on Ben Zobrist’s hit, joins Schwarber in the free-agent market. Mark Gonzales,, "Chicago Cubs will ‘keep the door open’ to re-signing Kyle Schwarber after declining to tender contracts to him and fellow outfielder Albert Almora Jr.," 2 Dec. 2020 The coronavirus, which Kim claims has yet to infect any of his people, a struggling economy as sanctions continue to pinch, and recovery from a string of typhoons and flooding earlier this year. Paula Hancocks, CNN, "From love to thug, what President-elect Biden means for North Korea," 14 Nov. 2020 Use your fingers to pinch edges of top and bottom crusts firmly together. Kristine M. Kierzek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Baking a great Thanksgiving pie gets easier with these tips from the pros," 12 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But in a pinch, the video conferencing tool does have perfectly adequate chat functionality. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Here's What to Do When Slack Is Down," 4 Jan. 2021 Without Harris and Callaway, the team has used Lewis and Austin Carr in a pinch. Amie Just | Staff Writer,, "Saints designate WR Marquez Callaway for return from injured reserve, re-sign 2 players to practice squad," 22 Dec. 2020 Alcohol and vinegar are okay in a pinch, but your best bet is to invest in an affordable suede-cleaning pack. Michella Oré, Glamour, "How to Clean Suede Shoes the Right Way," 22 Dec. 2020 Capable of being operated by a person or driving off to carry out tasks on its own, the vehicle can also act as a power generator in a pinch. Julie Johnsson,, "Ousted Boeing CEO now a consultant for 35-employee startup that sells self-driving electric tractors," 14 Dec. 2020 Lowery, an Arkansas commit, is a disruptive defensive back who can take over the game in a pinch. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "10 Dallas-area players to watch in the 6A and 5A Texas high school football postseason," 9 Dec. 2020 Extra batteries, some paracord to help fashion a shelter in a pinch, and a water purifying drinking straw are excellent items to add. The Editors, Field & Stream, "Three Things To Consider Before You Buy a Survival Kit," 4 Dec. 2020 Mini-pumps can be mounted on the bike and are good in a pinch, but any cyclist needs a good floor pump at home. al, "Gift guide for cyclists: How to keep them on a roll," 2 Dec. 2020 This pair from Sketchers has a faux-fur lining, a one-inch heel, and a rubber bottom so they can be worn outside in a pinch. Tanner Saunders, USA TODAY, "20 of the best gifts under $50 from QVC," 2 Dec. 2020

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

27 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pinch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on pinch

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