See more synonyms for cringe on
  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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for cringing

crouching, cowardly, obsequious, submissive

Examples from the Web for cringing

Contemporary Examples of cringing

Historical Examples of cringing

  • He came toward us, humble and cringing, giving the beautiful Arab salute.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • He was a little man, withered by age, and with a cringing manner.

    A Zola Dictionary

    J. G. Patterson

  • He was cringing back, white-faced, from the edge of the gulch.

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • He stalked up to the cringing Harper, thrust his face toward him.

    The 4-D Doodler

    Graph Waldeyer

  • Cowardice and a cringing humility were not regarded as faults in a slave.


    John Spargo

British Dictionary definitions for cringing


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 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 cringing



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