verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)


Nearby words

  1. pincement,
  2. pincer movement,
  3. pincer nail,
  4. pincers,
  5. pincers movement,
  6. pinch bar,
  7. pinch effect,
  8. pinch graft,
  9. pinch hit,
  10. pinch hitter


    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

1250–1300; Middle English pinchen < Anglo-French *pinchier (equivalent to Old French pincier, Spanish pinchar) < Vulgar Latin *pīnctiāre, variant of *pūnctiāre to prick (cf. pique1)

Related formspinch·a·ble, adjectiveun·pinched, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pinch

British Dictionary definitions for 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
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 for pinch

C16: probably from Old Norman French pinchier (unattested); related to Old French pincier to pinch; compare Late Latin punctiāre to prick

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 pinch
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with pinch


In addition to the idioms beginning with pinch

  • pinch hitter
  • pinch pennies

also see:

  • feel the pinch
  • in a pinch
  • with a grain (pinch) of salt
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.