Where does cringey come from?
Use of cringey dates back to at least 1986. It features cringe plus the common adjective suffix -y and is a synonym for cringeworthy.
Cringey can be found on 1990s Usenet groups and in the early days of Twitter in the mid-2000s. It also made notable appearances on The Rachel Maddow Show and HuffPost in the late 2000s. Cringey was widespread in casual speech, on social media, and online publications like The New York Post and Cosmopolitan.
The rise of cringey corresponds with a rise in the use of -y to form new adjectives in the early 21st century— such as this definition is very dictionary-y.
Examples of cringey
Who uses cringey?
Cringey is common on social media to describe something embarrassing, or awkward, or creepy behavior or situations …
— Daily Star (@Daily_Star) October 11, 2018
white people be so cringey sometimes pic.twitter.com/4IgRtbpO6P
— Stephanie Mrsa (@louu_bi) October 11, 2018
… including about yourself.
Me: *goes through my old Twitter posts*
Me: damn I'm cringey
— Cipz S (@s_cipz) October 11, 2018
This is not meant to be a formal definition of cringey like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of cringey that will help our users expand their word mastery.