[ krinj ]
/ krɪndʒ /
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See synonyms for: cringe / cringed / cringing on Thesaurus.com

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

to shrink back, 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.


an act or instance of shrinking back, bending, or crouching: The gunshots elicited a cringe of terror.
an instance of being very embarrassed, awkward, or uncomfortable: Some of his outfits are bizarre enough to induce a cringe or two.
servile or fawning deference.



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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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
cringer, nouncringingly, adverb
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
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