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

to shrink, bend, or crouch, especially in fear or servility; cower.
to fawn.


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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cringed

Contemporary Examples of cringed

Historical Examples of cringed

  • Before the look of loathing in his handsome face Gonzaga cringed.


    Raphael Sabatini

  • I, in the background, noted their black looks at me even as they cringed.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • Whenever she passed him she cringed as if expectant of a blow.

    Bloom of Cactus

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • She cringed at the thought, for what was she that a man should die in her service?

  • And there was a time when Europe cringed at the clank of the Prussian sword!

    The Green Rust

    Edgar Wallace

British Dictionary definitions for cringed


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 Formscringer, 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

Word Origin and History for cringed



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