- to squeeze or compress between the finger and thumb, the teeth, the jaws of an instrument, or the like.
- to constrict or squeeze painfully, as a tight shoe does.
- to cramp within narrow bounds or quarters: The crowd pinched him into a corner.
- to render (the face, body, etc.) unnaturally constricted or drawn, as pain or distress does: Years of hardship had pinched her countenance beyond recognition.
- to affect with sharp discomfort or distress, as cold, hunger, or need does.
- to straiten in means or circumstances: The depression pinched them.
- to stint (a person, family, etc.) in allowance of money, food, or the like: They were severely pinched by the drought.
- to hamper or inconvenience by the lack of something specified: The builders were pinched by the shortage of good lumber.
- to stint the supply or amount of (a thing).
- to put a pinch or small quantity of (a powder, spice, etc.) into something.
- to roll or slide (a heavy object) with leverage from a pinch bar.
- to steal.
- to arrest.
- Digital Technology. to move two or more fingers toward or away from each other on (a touchscreen) in order to execute a command (often followed by in or out): Zoom in by pinching the screen.
- Horticulture. to remove or shorten (buds or shoots) in order to produce a certain shape of the plant, improve the quality of the bloom or fruit, or increase the development of buds (often followed by out, off, or back).
- Nautical. to sail (a ship) so close to the wind that the sails shake slightly and the speed is reduced.
- Horse Racing, British. to press (a horse) to the point of exhaustion.
- to exert a sharp or painful constricting force: This shoe pinches.
- to cause sharp discomfort or distress: Their stomachs were pinched with hunger.
- to economize unduly; stint oneself: They pinched and scraped for years to save money for a car.
- Digital Technology. to move the fingers toward or away from each other on a touchscreen (often followed by in or out): Pinching in will zoom in, and pinching out will zoom out.
- Mining. (of a vein of ore or the like)
- to diminish.
- to diminish to nothing (sometimes followed by out).
- Nautical. to trim a sail too flat when sailing to windward.
- the act of pinching; nip; squeeze.
- as much of anything as can be taken up between the finger and thumb: a pinch of salt.
- a very small quantity of anything: a pinch of pungent wit.
- sharp or painful stress, as of hunger, need, or any trying circumstances: the pinch of conscience; to feel the pinch of poverty.
- a situation or time of special stress, especially an emergency: A friend is someone who will stand by you in a pinch.
- pinch bar.
- Slang. a raid or an arrest.
- Slang. a theft.
- Digital Technology. an act or instance of pinching a touchscreen.
- pinch pennies, to stint on or be frugal or economical with expenditures; economize: I'll have to pinch pennies if I'm going to get through school.
- with a pinch of salt. salt1(def 24).Also with a grain of salt.
Origin of pinch
Examples from the Web for pinch
Pinch it with your fingers until it makes large crumbles and distribute it on the berries (it will not cover them entirely).The Barefoot Contessa Knows How To Make Us Crumble
November 30, 2014
“As much as I want to complain, I have to pinch myself that this is happening,” she said.Dumps and Death Threats, Hecklers and Vindication: True Tales from Today’s DIY Book Tour
August 12, 2014
Picture a slightly younger Alice with a pinch more physical humor in an office.Ann B. Davis Was the Zesty Antidote to the Bradys
June 2, 2014
A pinch hitter named Pickle Smith was announced for Jacksonville.The Great Paul Hemphill Celebrates the Long Gone Birmingham Barons
March 29, 2014
And what better way to rally the troops (and they're all troops, in a pinch) than by pointing out the enormity of the enemy?North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un’s Game of Thrones
December 15, 2013
Gray Peter's heart was never in doubt, but what would Sally's courage be in a pinch?
The pinch was bound to come in a town where every man wore his gun.
In a pinch they would obey you nearly as well as they obey me.
I presume half our people, on a pinch, could have brought the Sterling in.
In a word, I had too much, though I could have carried a good deal more, on a pinch.
- to press (something, esp flesh) tightly between two surfaces, esp between a finger and the thumbSee nip 1
- to confine, squeeze, or painfully press (toes, fingers, etc) because of lack of spacethese shoes pinch
- (tr) to cause stinging pain tothe cold pinched his face
- (tr) to make thin or drawn-looking, as from grief, lack of food, etc
- (usually foll by on) to provide (oneself or another person) with meagre allowances, amounts, etc
- pinch pennies to live frugally because of meanness or to economize
- (tr) nautical to sail (a sailing vessel) so close to the wind that her sails begin to luff and she loses way
- (intr sometimes foll by out) (of a vein of ore) to narrow or peter out
- (usually foll by off, out, or back) to remove the tips of (buds, shoots, etc) to correct or encourage growth
- (tr) informal to steal or take without asking
- (tr) informal to arrest
- a squeeze or sustained nip
- the quantity of a substance, such as salt, that can be taken between a thumb and finger
- a very small quantity
- a critical situation; predicament; emergencyif it comes to the pinch we'll have to manage
- the pinch sharp, painful, or extreme stress, need, etcfeeling the pinch of poverty
- See pinch bar
- slang a robbery
- slang a police raid or arrest
- at a pinch if absolutely necessary
- with a pinch of salt or with a grain of salt without wholly believing; sceptically
Word Origin and History for pinch
early 13c., from Old North French *pinchier "to pinch, squeeze, nip; steal" (Old French pincier, Modern French pincer), of uncertain origin, possibly from Vulgar Latin *punctiare "to pierce," which might be a blend of Latin punctum "point" + *piccare "to pierce." Meaning "to steal" in English is from 1650s. Sense of "to be stingy" is recorded from early 14c. Related: Pinched; pinching.
late 15c., "critical juncture" (as in baseball pinch hitter, attested from 1912), from pinch (v.). This figurative sense is attested earlier than the literal sense of "act of pinching" (1590s) or that of "small quantity" (as much as can be pinched between a thumb and finger), which is from 1580s. There is a use of the noun from mid-15c. apparently meaning "fold or pleat of fabric."
Idioms and Phrases with pinch
In addition to the idioms beginning with pinch
- pinch hitter
- pinch pennies
- feel the pinch
- in a pinch
- with a grain (pinch) of salt