\ 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 Already a report surfaced that TCU, which had that opener with Cal, would possibly pinch-hit for USC against Alabama at AT&T Stadium. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "A conference-only schedule? How Pac-12’s latest idea could create a major ripple effect across college football," 13 May 2020 At one store, David Eric Lambert also pinched a woman’s buttocks, according to court documents. Maria Cramer, New York Times, "Trailing Women With a Camera Was Legal, Appeals Court Rules," 12 May 2020 To make a kee-kee, pinch the striker close to the pot with pressure and drag it in a straight line across the call. Matthew Every, Outdoor Life, "3 Ways to Become a Deadlier Turkey Caller," 27 Apr. 2020 That’s about $3,000 cheaper than Polestar executives had hoped—good news for the penny-pinching electric enthusiasts among us. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Drone Deliveries, Food Supplies, and More Car News This Week," 26 Apr. 2020 March 20: at Arizona Coyotes (33-28-8) The buzz: The famously penny-pinching Coyotes went all in this year with an offseason trade for Phil Kessel and a midseason deal for former MVP Taylor Hall. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "No, the Red Wings won't set a team record for fewest points. But it'll be damn close," 7 Mar. 2020 Pierogis are handmade and hand-pinched. 4-6:30 p.m. March 13, March 27, April 10. cleveland, "Greater Cleveland Fish Fry Guide 2020," 6 Mar. 2020 Clinical trials demand patient travel, doctors, and clinical space—all pinched by the rapid spread of Covid-19. Jared Whitlock, Wired, "Covid-19 Stalls Clinical Trials for Everything but Covid-19," 17 Apr. 2020 On a touch screen, users can pinch or zoom in and out on an image. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Bilt knows what you’re doing during the pandemic: home projects," 10 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At Puppet, leaders are looking for ways to direct traffic in the office to help minimize pinch points and maximize distancing. Kathryn Vasel, CNN, "Welcome to your new, post-pandemic office," 14 May 2020 The museum may require one-way routes into and out of pinch points in its floor layout, including the glassy corridors that connect its East and West wings to the 1916 Building on its main gallery level, one story up from its central atrium. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Cleveland Museum of Art plans to reopen in June with limited admission, mandatory coronavirus protocols," 12 May 2020 Step 2 In a medium nonstick skillet, use a wooden spoon to stir together the oil, turmeric, coriander, cayenne and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Washington Post, "Spiced Bread Egg in a Hole," 12 May 2020 The pipeline pinch has weighed on local crude prices and stunted explorers’ expansion plans. Kevin Orland,, "Keystone XL Wins Green Light From U.S. to Plow Ahead on Project," 10 May 2020 Choose Print, then on the next screen pinch out on the image, which converts it to a PDF—tap Share again, then choose More and Copy to Drive. David Nield, Wired, "How to Use Your Phone to Declutter Your Life," 2 May 2020 Churchill is more likely to feel a financial pinch from the closure of its Derby City Gaming facility, whose Historical Horse Racing revenues have fueled a dramatic increase in racing purses. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Don't worry too much about Churchill Downs — track should still profit without fans," 1 May 2020 Hospitals: There’s $75 billion for hospitals, which have managed care for the nation’s coronavirus victims but have also felt the economic pinch with an interruption in the kind of elective care that affects their bottom line. William Thornton |, al, "What’s in the new $484 billion coronavirus bill?," 24 Apr. 2020 What if there happens to be a faith emergency department, a spiritual space open 24/7 that anyone can call on in a pinch? Jay Baruch, STAT, "You are waiting for the surge," 21 Apr. 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

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pinch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 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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