\ 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 Use locking pliers to pinch the hoses closed, clamping the pliers a couple inches away from the ends so there’s room to fit on the barbed union. Will Sutherland, Popular Mechanics, "How to Convert a School Bus to a RV," 4 Dec. 2019 Most packages that get pinched leave victims waiting and wondering about online orders that never arrive. Doreen Christensen,, "Amazon crime: These safeguards can help you stop porch pirates," 4 Dec. 2019 Nevertheless, males’ propensity to pinch snatches from their neighbours means the songs sung in one locality are distinguishable from those in another. The Economist, "Birdsong Male nightingales spend the winter practising," 28 Nov. 2019 The key is to choose something that's close to your natural flush and the best way to figure out what that is is to pinch your cheeks. Jessica Teich, Good Housekeeping, "14 Tips for Applying Blush Perfectly, Every Single Time," 18 Nov. 2019 With defenseman Burns caught pinching, the Red Wings broke on a 2-on-1 and San Jose’s lone defenseman, Radim Simek, couldn’t prevent a pass from Valtteri Filppula on the stick of Athanasiou for a one-timer to beat Jones. Ross Mckeon,, "Sharks back to .500 with sixth straight win, a 4-3 shootout win over Detroit," 16 Nov. 2019 Under Armour purchased roughly 50 acres there from Plank for $70.3 million in 2016, just as the company’s fast sales growth ground to a halt, pinching profits and sending the stock into a tailspin. Lorraine Mirabella,, "Years in the making, construction of controversial Port Covington project finally underway in South Baltimore," 8 Nov. 2019 Initially, two girls from the Reverend Samuel Parris’ household claimed they were being bitten, pinched and pricked by invisible specters. Bridget Marshall, The Conversation, "Most witches are women, because witch hunts were all about persecuting the powerless," 23 Oct. 2019 No back fat bulge showing, no pants pinching, just soft, pretty cotton creating an uber-flattering silhouette. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, "Move over Amazon coat, the 'nightgown dress' is going viral," 21 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Pull off the stems of the bird's eye chiles and add to mortar with a pinch of salt. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "From thum kao poon to turkey: How past meets present at one family's Thanksgiving table," 27 Nov. 2019 Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray and sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of sea salt. Julia O'malley, Anchorage Daily News, "It’s the heart of pumpkin spice season, and these cookie butter-crumble pie bars are at your service," 15 Nov. 2019 While the rice grits are cooking, lightly season the flounder with a pinch of kosher salt for each fillet. CBS News, "The Dish: Chef Whitney Otawka of Greyfield Inn," 2 Nov. 2019 Unfortunately, these rumours have to be taken with a pinch of salt., "Twitter Reacts as Manchester United Are Linked With Crazy £4bn Sale to Saudi Investors," 1 Nov. 2019 In a small bowl, beat the egg with a pinch of salt., "Recipe: Olive all’Ascolana (Deep-Fried Stuffed Olives)," 30 Oct. 2019 Sprinkle with another pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve. Joe Yonan, The Denver Post, "Here’s a roasted squash recipe you’ll be proud to serve to company — or keep all to yourself," 23 Oct. 2019 Sprinkle with another pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve. Joe Yonan, Washington Post, "Here’s a roasted squash recipe you’ll be proud to serve to company — or keep all to yourself," 20 Oct. 2019 Whatever the reason may be, the moral of the story is: Take those discounts with a pinch of salt. Abishek Bhat, Quartz India, "Here’s more proof that you shouldn’t take all Indian online festive offers at face value," 9 Oct. 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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Learn More about pinch

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

14 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Pinch.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

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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

Comments on pinch

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delight or enjoyment

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