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verb (used without object), cringed, cring·ing.
  1. to shrink, bend, or crouch, especially in fear or servility; cower.
  2. to fawn.
  1. servile or fawning deference.

Origin of cringe

1175–1225; Middle English crengen, crenchen (transitive); Old English *crencean, crencgean, causative of cringan, crincan to yield, fall (in battle)
Related formscring·er, nouncring·ing·ly, adverbcring·ing·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cringes


verb (intr)
  1. to shrink or flinch, esp in fear or servility
  2. to behave in a servile or timid way
  3. informal
    1. to wince in embarrassment or distaste
    2. to experience a sudden feeling of embarrassment or distaste
  1. the act of cringing
  2. the cultural cringe Australian subservience to overseas cultural standards
Derived Formscringer, nouncringingly, adverb

Word Origin

Old English cringan to yield in battle; related to Old Norse krangr weak, Middle High German krenken to weaken
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cringes



early 13c., from causative of Old English cringan "give way, fall (in battle), become bent," from Proto-Germanic *krank- "bend, curl up" (cf. Old Norse kringr, Dutch kring, German Kring "circle, ring"). Related: Cringed; cringing. As a noun from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper