[ krinj ]
/ krɪndʒ /

verb (used without object), cringed, cring·ing.

to shrink, bend, or crouch, especially in fear, pain, or servility; cower: She cringed in a corner and started praying. They cringed and bowed before the king.
to feel very embarrassed or awkward; react with discomfort: Some of us cringed at the speaker’s tactless comments.
to seek favor by acting in a servile way; fawn: He has never cringed to anyone—in fact, he can sometimes be a bully.


servile or fawning deference.

Origin of cringe

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


cring·er, nouncring·ing·ly, adverbcring·ing·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for cringe

British Dictionary definitions for cringe

/ (krɪndʒ) /

verb (intr)

to shrink or flinch, esp in fear or servility
to behave in a servile or timid way
  1. to wince in embarrassment or distaste
  2. to experience a sudden feeling of embarrassment or distaste


the act of cringing
the cultural cringe Australian subservience to overseas cultural standards

Derived forms of cringe

cringer, nouncringingly, adverb

Word Origin for cringe

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