Definition of pinch in English:

pinch

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Grip (something, typically a person's flesh) tightly and sharply between finger and thumb:

    ‘she pinched his cheek’
    • ‘I pinched Elle's arm as discreetly as could, and got a nudge back.’
    • ‘Try pinching the skin near the itch between your thumb and forefinger through your clothing; this is less damaging than actual scratching.’
    • ‘He looked at me, and put a strong firm hand under my chin grabbing the skin with his fingers pinching it there.’
    • ‘He grabbed my right cheek and pinched it before going up the stairs.’
    • ‘She sighed and rumbled softly while I showed her how to rub and pinch flesh between the fingers, how to read the muscles.’
    • ‘She shut them tightly and pinched herself, opening them she knew she wasn't dreaming.’
    • ‘Her friends encouraged her and Megan reached over to pinch the skin on the back of Rick's kneecap.’
    • ‘His hand clamped around her neck loosely but his thumb was pinching her skin against the wall.’
    • ‘She looked at him blankly until her god sister pinched her arm.’
    • ‘I begin to mutter something along those lines and begin pinching myself - just trying to wake up.’
    • ‘He leaned over again and trailed his lips down Edge's neck, his fingers now gently pinching the sensitive flesh.’
    • ‘Only a tiny whimper from pain as she fallen on her rump, the wood pinching her bare flesh.’
    • ‘If the skin is crushed, or very tightly pinched or squeezed, a blood blister may form.’
    • ‘How much of the universe can you pinch between your thumb and finger?’
    • ‘Evan noticed my reaction to his smile and pinched the skin behind my arm.’
    • ‘I pull him closer, pinching his scrawny bottom.’
    • ‘I'm still in disbelief, and keep looking at the ring on my finger, pinching myself!’
    • ‘This time, he got up and grabbed his teacher's cheeks and pinched them.’
    • ‘If you can see it biting you, you simply pinch the skin on either side of its proboscus, which means it can't extract it and fly away.’
    • ‘The tongs pinch your skin and a gauge measures the hunk of flesh in millimeters.’
    nip, tweak, squeeze, compress, grasp
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    1. 1.1 (of a shoe) hurt (a foot) by being too tight:
      ‘Mrs Grandison's pointed, Italian-style shoes were already beginning to pinch her feet’
      [no object] ‘if your shoes pinch, take them off’
      • ‘They were pinching my feet, so I took them off by the Dumpster.’
      • ‘No matter that pointy shoes pinch your toes something rotten (so I'm told), last year people were happy to suffer them in the name of fashion.’
      • ‘She descended the stairs carefully because the shoes were pinching her feet.’
      • ‘She remembered walking rigidly up the stone steps in her white lace, with the stockings too tight and the white shoes pinching and the back of the dress itchy.’
      • ‘The knees ain't what they used to be; feet ache a bit now and then when shoes pinch; and the hips, well, they're okay I suppose.’
      • ‘‘They're pinching my toes already,’ She complained as she slipped them on.’
      • ‘There's no point in buying shoes that will pinch your toes and cramp your feet all day long.’
      • ‘I had gotten rid of my shoes, they were too small, and they were pinching at my feet.’
      • ‘I look over at the closet and scan the rows of shoes there, the shoes that hurt my feet, pinch my toes, make me wobble and have to hold on to Tony for balance and support.’
      • ‘I made a quick mental note to never wear stilettos again as I turned and discovered the damned footwear pinching my toes together in quite an uncomfortable fashion.’
      • ‘Before the game, Trucks noticed that his spikes had shrunk and were pinching his feet.’
      • ‘The obvious and the ordinary were shoes that pinched his feet.’
      • ‘He had been so used to his old boots that the new ones he had bought had pinched his feet beyond endurance.’
      • ‘Famous saying goes that ‘Only you yourself know whether your shoes pinch,’ but a new breed of shoe advisers would beg to differ with this line.’
      • ‘But lately it's pinched his toes and left unsightly blisters, and now he finds himself venturing off to New York to see if it can be refitted.’
      hurt, cause pain to, pain
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    2. 1.2 Compress (one's lips), especially from worry or tension:
      ‘Aunt Rose pinched her thin lips together’
      • ‘He was pinching his bottom lip with frustration by this point.’
      • ‘He pinched his lips together, and gave a side glance at his two officers.’
      • ‘He pinched his lips together as anger rose inside him.’
      • ‘Pellew pinched his lips together not sure what he wanted to say.’
      • ‘Rebecca felt terribly guilty about hiding her relation to David, but she pinched her lips and said not a word.’
      • ‘She pinched her lips together and concentrated on her work.’
      • ‘His lips were pinched and his hair looked more peppery than usual.’
      • ‘Dezra ordered stubbornly, pinching her lips at him and glowering from beneath the big hat.’
      • ‘If he's real persistent, even with the noseband on, you can pinch his lip when he tries to put his mouth on you.’
      • ‘His lips were pinched in anger, his hands fisted.’
      • ‘I pinched my lips together in hopes of doing the same to my self, trying to pull my entire person together.’
      • ‘Asa pinched her lips in a grim line, meeting the strange man's cold green eyes.’
      • ‘I pushed him into a chair and tipped his head back, pinching his nose to stop the bleeding.’
      • ‘As Egewe watched, she pinched her lips with her thumb and forefinger, nervously stroking the thin skin of her lips.’
  • 2Move one's finger and thumb apart or bring them together on (a touchscreen) in order to zoom into or out of an image, activate a function, etc.:

    ‘to explore in more detail just pinch the screen’
    [no object] ‘you can pinch on the screen and all the open apps will appear’
    • ‘Pinching a home screen took us to another screen where we could change the default home screen.’
    • ‘There are many more ways to interact with modern smartphones, such as pinching or swiping the screen or shaking the whole phone.’
    • ‘Given the small screen size, I appreciate that pinching the touchscreen lets me zoom in and out of the world on a whim.’
    • ‘The Camera allows 4x digital Zoom - you have to pinch the screen to use the feature.’
    • ‘Pinching the home screen lets you select different profiles and add new customizations.’
    • ‘In some cases, pinching the screen causes surrounding items to jump around.’
    • ‘It is actually very annoying to have to constantly adjust/pinch the screen.’
    • ‘Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations.’
    • ‘Today's kids, who naturally "swipe" and "pinch" interactive screens and are more familiar with tablet screens than magazines, take to technology like fish to water.’
    • ‘Pinching outwards on the start screen will make the whole display zoom out and give you an overview of every app that you've got on the start screen.’
  • 3informal Steal or take without permission:

    ‘he pinched a handful of sweets’
    • ‘If a thief has pinched a mobile, and changed the IMEI number, he will need to change the number carried on the label on the phone as well.’
    • ‘The thieves didn't pinch the tapes of the show, for some reason, which suggests they were pretty discerning.’
    • ‘He said he has been left ‘devastated and heartbroken’ after opportunist thieves pinched his bike while he went into the store to get a Mars Bar, leaving the bike with a friend.’
    • ‘BOB is an angry man - he has lost his girlfriend and now the culprit who stole her has pinched his lead role in the new play.’
    • ‘It had been years since Big Al had been pinched for tax evasion, shipped off to Alcatraz, and reduced to a syphilitic mess.’
    • ‘A thief who pinched a pot of charity cash was later shamed into handing it back by angry shop staff.’
    • ‘Joshua, of Earlswood Walk, Great Lever, watched in horror from a kitchen window as a thief pinched the bike and cycled off.’
    • ‘Records from one of the credit cards they pinched show that after leaving the crime scene, the thieves went straight to Tesco's and bought £44 worth of pizza.’
    steal, thieve, rob, take, snatch, pilfer, purloin, loot, rifle, abscond with, carry off
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    1. 3.1British Arrest (someone):
      ‘I was pinched for dangerous driving last month’
      • ‘He wanted the police to portray themselves as the rabbit, but a day later, he's pinched.’
      • ‘When the cops pinched him, he gave them a fake name.’
      arrest, take into custody, apprehend, take prisoner, detain, seize, capture, catch, lay hold of, take in, haul in
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  • 4[no object] Live in a frugal way:

    ‘if I scraped and pinched a bit, I might manage’
    • ‘It's said that Chicago Bears founder George Halas pinched pennies so tightly that his thumbprint looked like the profile of Abraham Lincoln.’
    economize, be economical, scrimp, scrimp and save, cut corners, reduce wastage, skimp, stint, be sparing, be frugal, cut back, tighten one's belt, draw in one's horns, retrench, cut expenditure, cut one's coat according to one's cloth
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  • 5Remove (buds or leaves) from a plant to encourage bushy growth:

    ‘pinch out tips of shoots regularly’
    • ‘Once plants reach the top of the trellis, pinch out the growing point of the plant.’
    • ‘As summer wears on, continue pinching stem tips often to delay flowering.’
    • ‘Plants were pinched back to four leaves after 1 week and then were managed as stock plants.’
    • ‘In summer, pinch out the top 2 inches of growing canes that are approximately 18 to 36 inches tall.’
    • ‘This combination of mulch and pinching leaves will help keep soil-borne disease pathogens from splashing up onto plant leaves during rain storms or watering.’
    • ‘I want to smell a new fragrance, pluck a cherry tomato, pinch a mint leaf, experience the significance of life with each step.’
    • ‘Be sure to include enough plants in the combination to balance out the tallest specimens, then pinch and train the plants to encourage bushy growth.’
    • ‘The first summer, pinch the stem tips back two or three times to encourage strong branching.’
    • ‘Inspect and groom plants weekly and pinch them lightly to shape.’
    • ‘To keep the plant bushy, pinch off the top few inches of new growth.’
    • ‘When plants reach about 12 inches tall, pinch out about an inch of top growth to encourage branching and more blooms.’
    • ‘This is also the time to remove your plants and trim or pinch the old growth and all yellowing leaves off.’
    • ‘On tomatoes, pinch out all side shoots at leaf axils when they are about an inch long.’
    • ‘Remove all rootstock suckers or low-growing branches, and pinch the main stems to keep the height manageable.’
    • ‘If your plants are spindly, pinch out the top center stem.’
    • ‘To harvest the plant, simply pinch or cut the leaves off with a knife.’
    • ‘As indoor tomato plants grow taller, make sure they are properly staked and that the side shots are pinched out to encourage the plant to grow tall.’
    • ‘To encourage larger growth of the biggest blossoms, pinch out the smaller blossoms regularly.’
    • ‘If young plants are leggy, pinch off new growth to encourage bushiness.’
    • ‘For bedding plants, pinch off only the first few buds as flower size is less important as mass display.’
  • 6Sailing
    Sail (a boat) so close to the wind that the sails begin to lose power.

noun

  • 1An act of pinching someone:

    ‘he gave her a gentle pinch’
    • ‘The bite was not venomous, just a pinch, and so to dinner, cat and beetle not invited.’
    • ‘Sara brushed some curls from the cherub face and gave her nose a gentle pinch.’
    • ‘Number of gropes, slaps, pinches and otherwise unwanted sexual attention endured: 0.’
    • ‘And I am not sure I would be swayed by the statement that a suicide bomber suffers no more pain than that of a pinch.’
    • ‘Democracy day is also a holiday, and whole families have come out to the polls, a pat-down for the parents, a playful pinch for the kids.’
    • ‘He does not feel the pain of his killing except like a pinch.’
    • ‘‘Oh, he's her boyfriend,’ stated Clay, rather smoothly, and in turn gained a sharp pinch in the side by yours truly.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, I think I was given a slightly too large a pinch.’
    • ‘Ally felt a pinch as she looked at him; she hated to know that he was hurting.’
    • ‘Several tales exist concerning alleged damage of earwigs: how they like to crawl into ears or how the forceps cause a painful pinch.’
    • ‘I avoided all the pinches and kisses and hugs by staying in Derek's room.’
    • ‘There's winking, strutting, flitting and flirting, pecks on the cheek and pinches on the bum.’
    • ‘What looks like an earlobe pinch is a pressure point submission; I had heard of its use in law enforcement but hadn't seen it until now.’
    • ‘Try strokes, caresses, nips, pinches and gentle scratches.’
    • ‘The little pinch looks innocuous, but boy does it hurt!’
    • ‘I have been on the receiving end of a pinch from a man when I worked in a hospital.’
    • ‘Melibe will swim in response to pinches.’
    nip, tweak, squeeze
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    1. 1.1 An amount of an ingredient that can be held between fingers and thumb:
      ‘add a pinch of salt’
      • ‘Other ingredients which find their way into the blender include a pinch of Salt, Black Pepper, some grated Onions, Coriander, grated Parsley and some Cream.’
      • ‘In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white with a pinch of salt to make soft peaks.’
      • ‘Mix 1/3 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda in a cup of water.’
      • ‘Next I'd sprinkle a pinch of good sea salt - not much, just a bit, enough to bring out the flavor of the natural sweetness of tofu.’
      • ‘Gently stir together the first six ingredients with a pinch of salt until well mixed.’
      • ‘While the pinch of something can as well, in general, a cook understands that a pinch is a modest amount, less than a teaspoon.’
      • ‘The only added ingredients are a pinch of salt and, on the French fries, canola or soybean oil and citric acid.’
      • ‘Place the polenta, flour, sugar and lemon zest in a food processor with a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘Place the first four ingredients in a food processor with a pinch of salt, and process until combined.’
      • ‘In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and the pinch of salt into stiff peaks.’
      • ‘Cook the bread fruit and potatoes in a pressure cooker with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.’
      • ‘For the pastry, place the flour and butter in a food processor with a pinch of salt and whizz until breadcrumbs.’
      • ‘For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until they are fluffy and then add the remaining ingredients with a pinch of salt until combined.’
      • ‘You've been trying to eat less sodium - just a pinch of table salt to your baked potato and a dash to your scrambled eggs.’
      • ‘Adding a pinch of MSG to my unreduced stock made it taste more brothy - that is, more like reduced stock.’
      • ‘This she mixed with a little raw garlic and some sugar and a pinch of MSG, which is cheaper than salt.’
      • ‘To check for acidity in the soil, take a tablespoon of wet soil and add a pinch of baking soda.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, to make the polenta, put 500 ml water in a heavy-based saucepan, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.’
      • ‘Top with a pinch of snipped tomato and drizzle over a tiny dab of pesto.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, put the two egg whites in a third heatproof bowl with a pinch of salt.’
      small quantity, bit, touch, dash, spot, trace, soupçon, speck, taste
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  • 2Baseball
    A critical point in the game.

    • ‘Carbo offered him his best chance of coming through in the pinch, just as he had done with a home run in Game Three.’
    • ‘Carbo hit his second pinch homer of the series, and the game was tied 6-6.’
    • ‘They got a two-run home run from Bagwell and a run-scoring pinch single from Jason Lane.’
    • ‘Boston's Bernie Carbo had fled the battle with a two-out, three-run eighth-inning pinch homer.’

Phrases

  • at (or north americanin) a pinch

    • If absolutely necessary:

      ‘the rear will accommodate two adults or three smaller people at a pinch’
      • ‘But in a pinch, when the chips were really down, both have been willing to do so.’
      • ‘But the data basically show that most people are willing, in a pinch, to impose higher taxes on someone else.’
      • ‘An on-board doctor could help the person out, and in a pinch, the flight could simply land somewhere quickly.’
      • ‘Vermouth and Lemon meet these requirements nicely, although oranges, capers, Marsala also would have done in a pinch.’
      • ‘So, now that I work for Don Graham, I regard him as family, welcome to borrow my car or $50 whenever he's in a pinch.’
      • ‘If you were in a pinch, you might sell your socket wrenches, Tupperware, and Englebert Humperdink record collection.’
      • ‘If there was a unique and complex weapon that became necessary to be wield in a pinch, she was required be more skilled in it than anyone before.’
      • ‘Chimneys are the perfect habitat for these birds, although they will nest in silos, wells, air shafts, or abandoned buildings in a pinch.’
      • ‘I'm not that into cold cereal but could do that in a pinch.’
      • ‘Saudi Arabia produces 9 million barrels a day, and can do 11 in a pinch.’
      if necessary, with difficulty, in case of necessity, if need be, in an emergency, just possibly
      in a pinch
      at a push
      View synonyms
  • feel the pinch

    • Experience hardship, especially financial:

      ‘staff were beginning to feel the pinch as the dispute entered its third week’
      • ‘Farmers living in this community have felt the pinch in recent times with the dispute at the Department of Agriculture greatly affecting their livelihoods and putting them under severe pressure.’
      • ‘The automotive industry, and the housing industry are both beginning to feel the pinch.’
      • ‘Consumers, though they may have felt the pinch from tightening bank lending standards, show little signs of slowing down.’
      • ‘Over the next three years, dozens of exploration companies were forced to close and the Texas banks which supported the industry felt the pinch.’
      • ‘They have all felt the pinch of our economic hard times as a crushing burden they were unfamiliar with until the last two-three years.’
      • ‘The position of the Coptic communities is becoming more insecure and they are the first to feel the pinch of hardship.’
      • ‘Though obviously a different prospect to a large hotel and dependent of passing trade rather than the tour buses or large bookings, many guest houses around Kerry are also beginning to feel the pinch.’
      • ‘While it has not been directly involved in the bursting of the technology bubble, Ramsay admits the company has felt the pinch with more companies chasing the same contracts and smaller margins available on each contract.’
      • ‘Both men are septuagenarians who have felt the pinch of ageism in a business that often dismisses extensive experience and talent as irrelevant.’
      • ‘Landlords and shopkeepers whose premises line the ancient square beneath Holy Trinity Church have all felt the pinch since the market disappeared, and even had to repackage the area as a tourist attraction.’
      suffer hardship, have less money, be short of money, be poor, be impoverished, suffer poverty, suffer adversity
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  • pinch oneself

    • Take a moment to convince oneself that a good or pleasurable situation is real:

      ‘sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize it isn't all a dream’
      • ‘I have to pinch myself to realize he's 24.’
      • ‘Roger East occasionally has to pinch himself to make sure he isn't dreaming.’
      • ‘I had to pinch myself in case I was dreaming.’
      • ‘At this point in the interview I had to pinch myself.’
      • ‘Mr Obama's former colleagues have to pinch themselves that their now illustrious friend has a real shot at the White House.’
      • ‘I have to pinch myself sometimes to believe how far we've come.’
      • ‘She almost had to pinch herself to believe it was true.’
      • ‘The jazz singer of the moment tells Charles Hutchinson that most days she still has to pinch herself.’
      • ‘At this point I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.’
      • ‘The more Collins talks, the more you have to pinch yourself.’

Origin

Middle English (as a verb): from an Old Northern French variant of Old French pincier to pinch.

Pronunciation

pinch

/pɪn(t)ʃ/