Synonyms & Antonyms of cringe

1 to draw back in fear, pain, or disgust
  • gruesome crime scene photos that made several jurors cringe

Synonyms for cringe

Words Related to cringe

Near Antonyms for cringe

2 to draw back or crouch down in fearful submission
  • the puppy cringed when his master raised the rolled-up newspaper

Synonyms for cringe

Words Related to cringe

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About cringe

How is the word cringe distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of cringe are cower, fawn, toady, and truckle. While all these words mean "to behave abjectly before a superior," cringe suggests a bowing or shrinking in fear or servility.

a cringing sycophant

When is cower a more appropriate choice than cringe?

The meanings of cower and cringe largely overlap; however, cower suggests a display of abject fear in the company of threatening or domineering people.

cowering before a bully

When could fawn be used to replace cringe?

Although the words fawn and cringe have much in common, fawn implies seeking favor by servile flattery or exaggerated attention.

waiters fawning over a celebrity

When might toady be a better fit than cringe?

In some situations, the words toady and cringe are roughly equivalent. However, toady suggests the attempt to ingratiate oneself by an abjectly menial or subservient attitude.

toadying to his boss

Where would truckle be a reasonable alternative to cringe?

The words truckle and cringe can be used in similar contexts, but truckle implies the subordination of oneself and one's desires or judgment to those of a superior.

truckling to a powerful lobbyist

Learn More About cringe

Time Traveler for cringe

Time Traveler

The first known use of cringe was in the 13th century

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Thesaurus Entries Near cringe



cringe (at)

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Cite this Entry

“Cringe.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on cringe

Nglish: Translation of cringe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cringe for Arabic Speakers


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