uncle

[ uhng-kuh l ]
/ ˈʌŋ kəl /

noun

a brother of one's father or mother.
an aunt's husband.
a familiar title or term of address for any elderly man.
Slang. a pawnbroker.
(initial capital letter) Informal. Uncle Sam.
a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter U.

Idioms

    say/cry uncle, Informal. to concede defeat: They ganged up on him in the schoolyard and made him say uncle.

Origin of uncle

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French uncle, Old French oncle < Latin avunculus mother's brother, equivalent to av(us) mother's father + -unculus suffix extracted from diminutives of n-stems (see homunculus)

Related forms

un·cle·less, adjectiveun·cle·ship, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for cry uncle

uncle

/ (ˈʌŋkəl) /

noun

a brother of one's father or mother
the husband of one's aunt
a term of address sometimes used by children for a male friend of their parents
slang a pawnbroker

Related forms

Related adjective: avuncular

Word Origin for uncle

C13: from Old French oncle, from Latin avunculus; related to Latin avus grandfather
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

Culture definitions for cry uncle

say (cry) uncle


To admit defeat, to surrender: “Wilbur held his little brother in a headlock until he had to cry uncle.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with cry uncle (1 of 2)

cry uncle


Also, say uncle. Concede defeat, as in The Serbs want the Bosnians to cry uncle, or If you say uncle right now, I'll let you go first in the next game. This phrase originated about 1900 as an imperative among school-children who would say, “Cry uncle when you've had enough (of a beating).” By the mid-1900s it was being used figuratively, as in the examples.

Idioms and Phrases with cry uncle (2 of 2)

uncle


see cry uncle; Dutch uncle.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.