Definition of cringe in English:



  • 1 Bend one's head and body in fear or apprehension or in a servile manner.

    ‘he cringed away from the blow’
    ‘we are surrounded by cringing yes-men and sycophants’
    • ‘Death seemed to stalk her soul and she cringed in fear of it but that served as a powerful form of motivation.’
    • ‘Kokon and Tona cringed in fear that their master might turn on them and kill them.’
    • ‘Petal, crouching in the corner, the sheets around her naked body, cringed.’
    • ‘He cringed away from Arun, eyes wide, then blinked and appeared to recognize the trapper.’
    • ‘She cringed for she feared that something far more terrible was going to happen.’
    • ‘When he reached out to take her hand, she cringed away from him and fisted her skirt.’
    • ‘The word die seemed to hang in the air like an evil spell, a black enchantment that clutched at their hearts, made their mortal souls cringe with fear.’
    • ‘They have a field day when they see decent people cringe in fear or are immobilised by the power of fear itself.’
    • ‘First I will look down, so that every cell in my body cringes with the awareness that I am doing this to myself, that this is wholly my choice; then I will step out into nothingness.’
    • ‘But as much as I love him, I cringe in fear every time I see him.’
    • ‘Ideal as a watchdog, this dog will neither be aggressive nor cringe with fear on accosting a stranger.’
    • ‘The six-storey tall screen captures the demonic fury of the falls in such realistic detail that you cringe with fear as you watch it.’
    • ‘When Nikki rotated his ankle the opposite direction, he cringed and his whole body tensed.’
    • ‘The boy cringed away but remained defiant, his anger driving the fear out of him.’
    • ‘He cringed away from the sound and the feel of it, causing the papers to fall to the floor.’
    • ‘When I did not, his hands tightened around my mouth and arm until I cringed away in pain.’
    • ‘Dimitri cringed away from the raging monster and quickly stumbled towards the door.’
    • ‘Jordan cringed with fear as she watched the officer's face grow red with anger.’
    • ‘He tracks them down into an underground bar where they cower and cringe when they spot him entering the room.’
    • ‘Bojangles, the Mecca for all the crims and drug freaks, is the venue to make any family or business man cringe with fear and disgust.’
    cower, shrink, draw back, pull back, recoil, start, wince, flinch, blench, blanch, dodge, duck, crouch, shudder, shake, tremble, quiver, quail, quake
    kowtow, bow and scrape, grovel, creep, crawl, toady, fawn, truckle, cower
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    1. 1.1Experience an inward shiver of embarrassment or disgust.
      ‘I cringed at the fellow's stupidity’
      • ‘I took my first step into the store and cringed at the music that they were playing.’
      • ‘Inwardly he cringed at the memory.’
      • ‘The floor was dusty and Carmen cringed at the sight of her dirty, torn nightgown.’
      • ‘She cringed at the feel of his breath on her neck, struggling to get away from him.’
      • ‘In a week or three, I'll look back on what I've been writing recently and I'll either cringe with embarrassment or just be totally baffled by what was going on in my head.’
      • ‘Again, it wasn't quite how he wanted to say it, and he cringed at how it came out.’
      • ‘The room smelled like a combination of cheap liquor and bad body odor, to make things worse the room was hot and the smell made Jeremy cringe in disgust.’
      • ‘Calida cringed at the effortless way that those words passed through his lips.’
      • ‘I cringed at the thought of him urinating on it in the full view of the highway.’
      • ‘I know it was a harmless mistake but I just cringe at stuff like this.’
      • ‘Sarah inwardly cringed at the thought of how many people would approach them.’
      • ‘I glanced at my reflection in the mirror and almost cringed at the sight of my messy state.’
      • ‘Heck, there are times when I have cringed at the musical tastes of musicians I admire.’
      • ‘Yanare took a deep breath secretly hoping that she could meet someone in this party that would make her heart beat rapidly instead of making her cringe in disgust.’
      • ‘I could hear Beth snigger in the background and cringed at how embarrassing this was.’
      • ‘He cringed at his own nosiness, but this place was easily worth a million and a half.’
      • ‘Thomas cringed at her all too accurate description and he felt annoyed by it.’
      • ‘Sure to make you howl with laughter and cringe with embarrassment, this is a definitive highlight of the Michaelmas theatre season.’
      • ‘I cringed at the title, hating the reminder that I was royalty while she was common.’
      • ‘The session then continued without the interpreter, although inwardly I cringed at how stupid I must have looked.’
      wince, squirm, blush, flush, go red
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  • An act of cringing.

    • ‘The chuckle turned into a cringe as I swung a little, due to the movement caused by my laughter.’
    • ‘Syringe rhymes with cringe, a poetic coincidence not lost on those who get wobbly even thinking about their annual flu shot.’
    • ‘As for monarchists weighing into the debate right now, it seems that never in the field of human controversy has greater cringe been inflicted on so many, by so few.’
    • ‘Supporters of this war who are in the mood for an ideological pogrom should chill out for a while, and opponents need not fold into permanent cringe position.’
    • ‘I moved my arms to the side and dropped the cloth covered items onto the ground out of the way, so I wouldn't land on them and break them, and then closed my eyes in a cringe to prepare for the pain I was bound to feel in the next second.’
    • ‘Genevan felt a strange cringe in his stomach at the sight of her.’
    • ‘Thankfully, this is also one of the few episodes where Ralph's cowardly cringe is tossed aside and he stands up for himself.’
    • ‘His robots fight among themselves most realistically, and his crowning achievement is a pitched battle on an underground road, believable enough to induce cringes and curled fists.’
    • ‘Pierre gave a small cringe as Marge turned from fixing the table with mild surprise.’
    • ‘But the characters are so flat and unappealing that I couldn't muster up a single empathetic cringe for 'em.’
    • ‘She shot a kind look at Kaiyo, whose perpetual cringe eased in reply.’
    • ‘So go he does, turning on his heel and slinking out with the cringe of a dog that's been kicked one too many times.’


Middle English crenge, crenche, related to Old English cringan, crincan ‘bend, yield, fall in battle’, of Germanic origin and related to Dutch krengen heel over and German krank sick, also to crank.