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’
    • ‘She shut them tightly and pinched herself, opening them she knew she wasn't dreaming.’
    • ‘If the skin is crushed, or very tightly pinched or squeezed, a blood blister may form.’
    • ‘I pinched Elle's arm as discreetly as could, and got a nudge back.’
    • ‘She sighed and rumbled softly while I showed her how to rub and pinch flesh between the fingers, how to read the muscles.’
    • ‘The tongs pinch your skin and a gauge measures the hunk of flesh in millimeters.’
    • ‘He grabbed my right cheek and pinched it before going up the stairs.’
    • ‘Try pinching the skin near the itch between your thumb and forefinger through your clothing; this is less damaging than actual scratching.’
    • ‘I'm still in disbelief, and keep looking at the ring on my finger, pinching myself!’
    • ‘Evan noticed my reaction to his smile and pinched the skin behind my arm.’
    • ‘His hand clamped around her neck loosely but his thumb was pinching her skin against the wall.’
    • ‘This time, he got up and grabbed his teacher's cheeks and pinched them.’
    • ‘Only a tiny whimper from pain as she fallen on her rump, the wood pinching her bare flesh.’
    • ‘She looked at him blankly until her god sister pinched her arm.’
    • ‘How much of the universe can you pinch between your thumb and finger?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I pull him closer, pinching his scrawny bottom.’
    • ‘Her friends encouraged her and Megan reached over to pinch the skin on the back of Rick's kneecap.’
    • ‘He leaned over again and trailed his lips down Edge's neck, his fingers now gently pinching the sensitive flesh.’
    • ‘He looked at me, and put a strong firm hand under my chin grabbing the skin with his fingers pinching it there.’
    • ‘I begin to mutter something along those lines and begin pinching myself - just trying to wake up.’
    nip, tweak, squeeze, compress, grasp
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Use the fingers to remove (buds or leaves) from a plant to encourage bushy growth.
      ‘pinch out tips of shoots regularly’
      • ‘Remove all rootstock suckers or low-growing branches, and pinch the main stems to keep the height manageable.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Plants were pinched back to four leaves after 1 week and then were managed as stock plants.’
      • ‘To harvest the plant, simply pinch or cut the leaves off with a knife.’
      • ‘To encourage larger growth of the biggest blossoms, pinch out the smaller blossoms regularly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For bedding plants, pinch off only the first few buds as flower size is less important as mass display.’
      • ‘Once plants reach the top of the trellis, pinch out the growing point of the plant.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As summer wears on, continue pinching stem tips often to delay flowering.’
      • ‘I want to smell a new fragrance, pluck a cherry tomato, pinch a mint leaf, experience the significance of life with each step.’
      • ‘If young plants are leggy, pinch off new growth to encourage bushiness.’
      • ‘The first summer, pinch the stem tips back two or three times to encourage strong branching.’
      • ‘To keep the plant bushy, pinch off the top few inches of new growth.’
      • ‘If your plants are spindly, pinch out the top center stem.’
      • ‘When plants reach about 12 inches tall, pinch out about an inch of top growth to encourage branching and more blooms.’
      • ‘In summer, pinch out the top 2 inches of growing canes that are approximately 18 to 36 inches tall.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Inspect and groom plants weekly and pinch them lightly to shape.’
    2. 1.2 (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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He had been so used to his old boots that the new ones he had bought had pinched his feet beyond endurance.’
      • ‘They were pinching my feet, so I took them off by the Dumpster.’
      • ‘‘They're pinching my toes already,’ She complained as she slipped them on.’
      • ‘I had gotten rid of my shoes, they were too small, and they were pinching at my feet.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The obvious and the ordinary were shoes that pinched his feet.’
      • ‘There's no point in buying shoes that will pinch your toes and cramp your feet all day long.’
      • ‘Before the game, Trucks noticed that his spikes had shrunk and were pinching his feet.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      hurt, cause pain to, pain
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    3. 1.3 Compress (one's lips), especially from worry or tension.
      ‘Aunt Rose pinched her thin lips together’
      • ‘He pinched his lips together, and gave a side glance at his two officers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Asa pinched her lips in a grim line, meeting the strange man's cold green eyes.’
      • ‘She pinched her lips together and concentrated on her work.’
      • ‘Dezra ordered stubbornly, pinching her lips at him and glowering from beneath the big hat.’
      • ‘He pinched his lips together as anger rose inside him.’
      • ‘His lips were pinched in anger, his hands fisted.’
      • ‘If he's real persistent, even with the noseband on, you can pinch his lip when he tries to put his mouth on you.’
      • ‘I pushed him into a chair and tipped his head back, pinching his nose to stop the bleeding.’
      • ‘His lips were pinched and his hair looked more peppery than usual.’
      • ‘As Egewe watched, she pinched her lips with her thumb and forefinger, nervously stroking the thin skin of her lips.’
      • ‘I pinched my lips together in hopes of doing the same to my self, trying to pull my entire person together.’
      • ‘He was pinching his bottom lip with frustration by this point.’
  • 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 the home screen lets you select different profiles and add new customizations.’
    • ‘Given the small screen size, I appreciate that pinching the touchscreen lets me zoom in and out of the world on a whim.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations.’
    • ‘There are many more ways to interact with modern smartphones, such as pinching or swiping the screen or shaking the whole phone.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In some cases, pinching the screen causes surrounding items to jump around.’
    • ‘Pinching a home screen took us to another screen where we could change the default home screen.’
    • ‘It is actually very annoying to have to constantly adjust/pinch the screen.’
    • ‘The Camera allows 4x digital Zoom - you have to pinch the screen to use the feature.’
  • 3informal Steal or take without permission.

    ‘he pinched a handful of sweets’
    • ‘Then, at home, I pinched my mother's detective stories and I read them in bed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We scuttled back into the stand and pinched a couple of undercover seats.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Joshua, of Earlswood Walk, Great Lever, watched in horror from a kitchen window as a thief pinched the bike and cycled off.’
    • ‘I tell you, someone is going to pinch this bloke for their band soonish.’
    • ‘A thief who pinched a pot of charity cash was later shamed into handing it back by angry shop staff.’
    • ‘It had been years since Big Al had been pinched for tax evasion, shipped off to Alcatraz, and reduced to a syphilitic mess.’
    • ‘What I can see is that people are going to be pinching other people's bins.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ad broker has been pinching employees from Microsoft and others and is developing quite the reputation.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘When the cops pinched him, he gave them a fake name.’
      • ‘He wanted the police to portray themselves as the rabbit, but a day later, he's pinched.’
      arrest, take into custody, apprehend, take prisoner, detain, seize, capture, catch, lay hold of, take in, haul in
      View synonyms
  • 4no 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
    View synonyms
  • 5Sailing
    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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘He does not feel the pain of his killing except like a pinch.’
    • ‘Melibe will swim in response to pinches.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Several tales exist concerning alleged damage of earwigs: how they like to crawl into ears or how the forceps cause a painful pinch.’
    • ‘The little pinch looks innocuous, but boy does it hurt!’
    • ‘Sara brushed some curls from the cherub face and gave her nose a gentle pinch.’
    • ‘I have been on the receiving end of a pinch from a man when I worked in a hospital.’
    • ‘The bite was not venomous, just a pinch, and so to dinner, cat and beetle not invited.’
    • ‘Ally felt a pinch as she looked at him; she hated to know that he was hurting.’
    • ‘I avoided all the pinches and kisses and hugs by staying in Derek's room.’
    • ‘Try strokes, caresses, nips, pinches and gentle scratches.’
    • ‘There's winking, strutting, flitting and flirting, pecks on the cheek and pinches on the bum.’
    • ‘Number of gropes, slaps, pinches and otherwise unwanted sexual attention endured: 0.’
    nip, tweak, squeeze
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An amount of an ingredient that can be held between fingers and thumb.
      ‘add a pinch of salt’
      • ‘While the pinch of something can as well, in general, a cook understands that a pinch is a modest amount, less than a teaspoon.’
      • ‘Top with a pinch of snipped tomato and drizzle over a tiny dab of pesto.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, to make the polenta, put 500 ml water in a heavy-based saucepan, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.’
      • ‘Cook the bread fruit and potatoes in a pressure cooker with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.’
      • ‘The only added ingredients are a pinch of salt and, on the French fries, canola or soybean oil and citric acid.’
      • ‘Mix 1/3 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda in a cup of water.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white with a pinch of salt to make soft peaks.’
      • ‘In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and the pinch of salt into stiff peaks.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, put the two egg whites in a third heatproof bowl with a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For the pastry, place the flour and butter in a food processor with a pinch of salt and whizz until breadcrumbs.’
      • ‘Place the polenta, flour, sugar and lemon zest in a food processor with a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘This she mixed with a little raw garlic and some sugar and a pinch of MSG, which is cheaper than salt.’
      • ‘Place the first four ingredients in a food processor with a pinch of salt, and process until combined.’
      • ‘To check for acidity in the soil, take a tablespoon of wet soil and add a pinch of baking soda.’
      • ‘Adding a pinch of MSG to my unreduced stock made it taste more brothy - that is, more like reduced stock.’
      • ‘Gently stir together the first six ingredients with a pinch of salt until well mixed.’
      small quantity, bit, touch, dash, spot, trace, soupçon, speck, taste
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  • 2Baseball
    A critical point in the game.

    • ‘Boston's Bernie Carbo had fled the battle with a two-out, three-run eighth-inning pinch homer.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • at a pinch

    • If absolutely necessary.

      ‘the rear will accommodate two adults or three smaller people at a pinch’
      • ‘An on-board doctor could help the person out, and in a pinch, the flight could simply land somewhere quickly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Chimneys are the perfect habitat for these birds, although they will nest in silos, wells, air shafts, or abandoned buildings in a pinch.’
      • ‘Saudi Arabia produces 9 million barrels a day, and can do 11 in a pinch.’
      • ‘If you were in a pinch, you might sell your socket wrenches, Tupperware, and Englebert Humperdink record collection.’
      • ‘Vermouth and Lemon meet these requirements nicely, although oranges, capers, Marsala also would have done in a pinch.’
      • ‘But the data basically show that most people are willing, in a pinch, to impose higher taxes on someone else.’
      • ‘I'm not that into cold cereal but could do that in a pinch.’
      • ‘But in a pinch, when the chips were really down, both have been willing to do so.’
      if necessary, with difficulty, in case of necessity, if need be, in an emergency, just possibly
      View synonyms
  • feel the pinch

    • Experience hardship, especially financial.

      ‘staff were beginning to feel the pinch as the dispute entered its third week’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both men are septuagenarians who have felt the pinch of ageism in a business that often dismisses extensive experience and talent as irrelevant.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      suffer hardship, have less money, be short of money, be poor, be impoverished, suffer poverty, suffer adversity
      View synonyms
  • 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’
      • ‘Roger East occasionally has to pinch himself to make sure he isn't dreaming.’
      • ‘At this point I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.’
      • ‘I have to pinch myself to realize he's 24.’
      • ‘She almost had to pinch herself to believe it was true.’
      • ‘I have to pinch myself sometimes to believe how far we've come.’
      • ‘The more Collins talks, the more you have to pinch yourself.’
      • ‘I had to pinch myself in case I was dreaming.’
      • ‘Mr Obama's former colleagues have to pinch themselves that their now illustrious friend has a real shot at the White House.’
      • ‘At this point in the interview I had to pinch myself.’
      • ‘The jazz singer of the moment tells Charles Hutchinson that most days she still has to pinch herself.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

pinch

/pɪn(t)ʃ/