\ 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

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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 Michael Fulmer replaced Soto and gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Yandy Diaz., 18 Sep. 2021 This could pinch the net profit in the quarter to a little extent. Trefis Team, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021 Bryant doubled to lead off the ninth against Josh Hader, but the Giants couldn’t get him across; Crawford popped up, Yastrzemski grounded out and pinch-hitter Austin Slater flied out to shallow right field. Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Aug. 2021 Vázquez led off the ninth with a double to left, but pinch runner Yairo Muñoz was stranded there., 28 Aug. 2021 Loosely coil the rope, tuck the end under and pinch to seal. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Aug. 2021 Add vegetable shortening/lard and pinch into the flour mixture until everything is incorporated. Time, 12 Aug. 2021 The other six legs function primarily to motor the arachnid around, though the fourth pair can also sport seriously stabby spines, used by some harvestmen to pinch predatory flatworms in two or to joust for access to mates. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 3 Aug. 2021 An unlocked handle on the equipment can pinch a user's fingers against the generator frame when moving the product, posing finger-amputation and crushing hazards, Generac Power Systems stated in a notice posted Thursday by the CPSC. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 2 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Brewers scored once in the eighth off Luis Garcia when pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach walked, Kolten Wong doubled and Willy Adames followed with a sacrifice fly. Jim Hoehn, ajc, 22 Sep. 2021 Evan Longoria doubled, Mike Yastrzemski singled and pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores delivered a base hit to send in Longoria, Posey a sac fly to send in Yastrzemski. Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Sep. 2021 Pittsburgh added three runs in the top of the eighth inning against Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen via two walks, an RBI single by Michael Perez and an RBI double by pinch-hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, 22 Sep. 2021 Pujols, nearing the end of his 21st major-league season, understood the assignment as a pinch-hitter in the thick of his first pennant race in seven years. Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2021 Carlton then walked three batters in a row — Kevin Kiermaier, Yandy Diaz and Manuel Margot — before pinch-hitter Austin Meadows flied out to left field. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 17 Sep. 2021 But Paul Sewald entered with two outs and retired pinch-hitter Verdugo on a popup, preserving Sadler’s AL-leading 19 2/3-inning scoreless streak., 16 Sep. 2021 Peters, 25, went 0 for 1 Sunday as a pinch-hitter after homering in Saturday’s win, his seventh round-tripper in a 17-game span. Dallas News, 13 Sep. 2021 Michael Conforto was intentionally walked before Richard Bleier (3-2) relieved and retired pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil on a grounder., 10 Sep. 2021

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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Last Updated

23 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pinch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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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)

: 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


transitive verb
\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on pinch

Nglish: Translation of pinch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pinch for Arabic Speakers


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