View synonyms for cringe


[ krinj ]

verb (used without object)

, cringed, cring·ing.
  1. to shrink back, bend, or crouch, especially in fear, pain, or servility; cower: They cringed and bowed before the king.

    She cringed in a corner and started praying.

    They cringed and bowed before the king.

  2. to feel very embarrassed or awkward; react with discomfort:

    Some of us cringed at the speaker’s tactless comments.

  3. to seek favor by acting in a servile way; fawn:

    He has never cringed to anyone—in fact, he can sometimes be a bully.


  1. an act or instance of shrinking back, bending, or crouching:

    The gunshots elicited a cringe of terror.

  2. an instance of being very embarrassed, awkward, or uncomfortable:

    Some of his outfits are bizarre enough to induce a cringe or two.

  3. servile or fawning deference.


  1. Slang. causing embarrassment or resulting in awkward discomfort; cringeworthy; cringey:

    Her attempt to rap at the talent show was so very cringe.


/ krɪndʒ /


  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
    subservience to overseas cultural standards

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Derived Forms

  • ˈcringer, noun
  • ˈcringingly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • cring·er noun
  • cring·ing·ly adverb
  • cring·ing·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of cringe1

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English crengen, crenchen (transitive); Old English crencean, crencgean (unattested), causative of cringan, crincan “to yield, fall (in battle)”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of cringe1

Old English cringan to yield in battle; related to Old Norse krangr weak, Middle High German krenken to weaken

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Example Sentences

Everyone who engages with The Rehearsal as more than just cringe comedy, which it also sometimes is, will probably get something different out of it.

From Time

Not only has “cringe culture” become de rigueur on many parts of the internet, but the group experience involved in bullying or mocking anyone who happens to get categorized as cringe becomes justification for the mocking and bullying to continue.

From Vox

Feldstein and Owen bring what I assume is an intended blend of romantic foolhardiness, blind horniness and all-around cringe to their banter scenes, and, well, they sure nail that latter quality.

No matter what Tokyo pulled off Friday, however, the response was going to be a collective cringe.

With Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld co-creator and “social assassin” Larry David has brought us more than two decades’ worth of cringe comedy based on his privileged life.

From Time

I would cringe the same way you would if I felt [the depiction was problematic].

Maybe you managed not to cringe at his take on the Bard in Shakespeare in Love, making you a stronger person than most.

The other one is silly and perhaps because of that even more cringe-worthy.

In hindsight, it is one of the more cringe-inducing campaign promises Barack Obama ever made.

If the first 12 minutes of game footage released this month is any indication, the writing in Hardline is cringe-worthy at best.

The same amount of pride which makes a man treat haughtily his inferiors, makes him cringe servilely to those above him.

And then, that a thought should knock me prone, and make me cringe—from the mere fact of its lowness and meanness!

The captives were pale and seemed to cringe from the pale interrogation light.

My grand signior, Vouchsafe a beso las manos, and a cringe Of the last edition.

Beside a falsify may spoil his cringe, Or making of a leg, in which consists Much of his Court-perfection.


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