Definition of pinch in US English:

pinch

verb

[with object]
  • 1Grip (something, typically someone'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.’
    • ‘His hand clamped around her neck loosely but his thumb was pinching her skin against the wall.’
    • ‘Only a tiny whimper from pain as she fallen on her rump, the wood pinching her bare flesh.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She looked at him blankly until her god sister pinched her arm.’
    • ‘Her friends encouraged her and Megan reached over to pinch the skin on the back of Rick's kneecap.’
    • ‘He grabbed my right cheek and pinched it before going up the stairs.’
    • ‘The tongs pinch your skin and a gauge measures the hunk of flesh in millimeters.’
    • ‘I'm still in disbelief, and keep looking at the ring on my finger, pinching myself!’
    • ‘I pinched Elle's arm as discreetly as could, and got a nudge back.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If the skin is crushed, or very tightly pinched or squeezed, a blood blister may form.’
    • ‘She sighed and rumbled softly while I showed her how to rub and pinch flesh between the fingers, how to read the muscles.’
    • ‘Try pinching the skin near the itch between your thumb and forefinger through your clothing; this is less damaging than actual scratching.’
    • ‘I pull him closer, pinching his scrawny bottom.’
    • ‘I begin to mutter something along those lines and begin pinching myself - just trying to wake up.’
    • ‘This time, he got up and grabbed his teacher's cheeks and pinched them.’
    • ‘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.’
    nip, tweak, squeeze, compress, grasp
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Use the fingers to remove (a bud or leaves) from a plant to encourage bushy growth.
      • ‘When plants reach about 12 inches tall, pinch out about an inch of top growth to encourage branching and more blooms.’
      • ‘I want to smell a new fragrance, pluck a cherry tomato, pinch a mint leaf, experience the significance of life with each step.’
      • ‘This is also the time to remove your plants and trim or pinch the old growth and all yellowing leaves off.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In summer, pinch out the top 2 inches of growing canes that are approximately 18 to 36 inches tall.’
      • ‘If your plants are spindly, pinch out the top center stem.’
      • ‘Inspect and groom plants weekly and pinch them lightly to shape.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If young plants are leggy, pinch off new growth to encourage bushiness.’
      • ‘Remove all rootstock suckers or low-growing branches, and pinch the main stems to keep the height manageable.’
      • ‘The first summer, pinch the stem tips back two or three times to encourage strong branching.’
      • ‘On tomatoes, pinch out all side shoots at leaf axils when they are about an inch long.’
      • ‘To harvest the plant, simply pinch or cut the leaves off with a knife.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Plants were pinched back to four leaves after 1 week and then were managed as stock plants.’
      • ‘To keep the plant bushy, pinch off the top few inches of new growth.’
      • ‘As summer wears on, continue pinching stem tips often to delay flowering.’
      • ‘Once plants reach the top of the trellis, pinch out the growing point of the plant.’
      • ‘For bedding plants, pinch off only the first few buds as flower size is less important as mass display.’
    2. 1.2 (of a shoe) hurt (a foot) by being too tight.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He had been so used to his old boots that the new ones he had bought had pinched his feet beyond endurance.’
      • ‘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 were pinching my feet, so I took them off by the Dumpster.’
      • ‘She descended the stairs carefully because the shoes were pinching her feet.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘Before the game, Trucks noticed that his spikes had shrunk and were pinching his feet.’
      hurt, cause pain to, pain
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Compress (the lips), especially with worry or tension.
      ‘Aunt Rose pinched her thin lips together’
      • ‘His lips were pinched in anger, his hands fisted.’
      • ‘He pinched his lips together, and gave a side glance at his two officers.’
      • ‘If he's real persistent, even with the noseband on, you can pinch his lip when he tries to put his mouth on you.’
      • ‘Dezra ordered stubbornly, pinching her lips at him and glowering from beneath the big hat.’
      • ‘She pinched her lips together and concentrated on her work.’
      • ‘He was pinching his bottom lip with frustration by this point.’
      • ‘As Egewe watched, she pinched her lips with her thumb and forefinger, nervously stroking the thin skin of her lips.’
      • ‘His lips were pinched and his hair looked more peppery than usual.’
      • ‘Rebecca felt terribly guilty about hiding her relation to David, but she pinched her lips and said not a word.’
      • ‘I pinched my lips together in hopes of doing the same to my self, trying to pull my entire person together.’
      • ‘Pellew pinched his lips together not sure what he wanted to say.’
      • ‘He pinched his lips together as anger rose inside him.’
      • ‘I pushed him into a chair and tipped his head back, pinching his nose to stop the bleeding.’
      • ‘Asa pinched her lips in a grim line, meeting the strange man's cold green eyes.’
  • 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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations.’
    • ‘It is actually very annoying to have to constantly adjust/pinch the screen.’
    • ‘There are many more ways to interact with modern smartphones, such as pinching or swiping the screen or shaking the whole phone.’
    • ‘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 a home screen took us to another screen where we could change the default home screen.’
    • ‘In some cases, pinching the screen causes surrounding items to jump around.’
  • 3informal Steal.

    ‘he pinched a handful of candies’
    • ‘It had been years since Big Al had been pinched for tax evasion, shipped off to Alcatraz, and reduced to a syphilitic mess.’
    • ‘The thieves didn't pinch the tapes of the show, for some reason, which suggests they were pretty discerning.’
    • ‘A thief who pinched a pot of charity cash was later shamed into handing it back by angry shop staff.’
    • ‘Then, at home, I pinched my mother's detective stories and I read them in bed.’
    • ‘Joshua, of Earlswood Walk, Great Lever, watched in horror from a kitchen window as a thief pinched the bike and cycled off.’
    • ‘We scuttled back into the stand and pinched a couple of undercover seats.’
    • ‘I tell you, someone is going to pinch this bloke for their band soonish.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What I can see is that people are going to be pinching other people's bins.’
    • ‘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 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
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1British Arrest (someone)
      ‘I was pinched for speeding’
      • ‘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 pinch and scrape, 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 gripping the skin of someone's body between finger and thumb.

    ‘he gave her a gentle pinch’
    • ‘Number of gropes, slaps, pinches and otherwise unwanted sexual attention endured: 0.’
    • ‘I have been on the receiving end of a pinch from a man when I worked in a hospital.’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘There's winking, strutting, flitting and flirting, pecks on the cheek and pinches on the bum.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Try strokes, caresses, nips, pinches and gentle scratches.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The bite was not venomous, just a pinch, and so to dinner, cat and beetle not invited.’
    • ‘I avoided all the pinches and kisses and hugs by staying in Derek's room.’
    • ‘‘Oh, he's her boyfriend,’ stated Clay, rather smoothly, and in turn gained a sharp pinch in the side by yours truly.’
    • ‘Sara brushed some curls from the cherub face and gave her nose a gentle 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.’
    • ‘He does not feel the pain of his killing except like a pinch.’
    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’
      • ‘Mix 1/3 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda in a cup of water.’
      • ‘Place the first four ingredients in a food processor with a pinch of salt, and process until combined.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While the pinch of something can as well, in general, a cook understands that a pinch is a modest amount, less than a teaspoon.’
      • ‘Place the polenta, flour, sugar and lemon zest in a food processor with a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘Cook the bread fruit and potatoes in a pressure cooker with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.’
      • ‘This she mixed with a little raw garlic and some sugar and a pinch of MSG, which is cheaper than salt.’
      • ‘The only added ingredients are a pinch of salt and, on the French fries, canola or soybean oil and citric acid.’
      • ‘Adding a pinch of MSG to my unreduced stock made it taste more brothy - that is, more like reduced stock.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, put the two egg whites in a third heatproof bowl with a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and the pinch of salt into stiff peaks.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Gently stir together the first six ingredients with a pinch of salt until well mixed.’
      • ‘For the pastry, place the flour and butter in a food processor with a pinch of salt and whizz until breadcrumbs.’
      • ‘In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white with a pinch of salt to make soft peaks.’
      • ‘Top with a pinch of snipped tomato and drizzle over a tiny dab of pesto.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, to make the polenta, put 500 ml water in a heavy-based saucepan, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.’
      • ‘To check for acidity in the soil, take a tablespoon of wet soil and add a pinch of baking soda.’
      small quantity, bit, touch, dash, spot, trace, soupçon, speck, taste
      View synonyms
  • 2informal An arrest.

    1. 2.1 An act of theft or plagiarism.

Phrases

  • in a pinch

    • In a critical situation; if absolutely necessary.

      • ‘If you were in a pinch, you might sell your socket wrenches, Tupperware, and Englebert Humperdink record collection.’
      • ‘But the data basically show that most people are willing, in a pinch, to impose higher taxes on someone else.’
      • ‘Vermouth and Lemon meet these requirements nicely, although oranges, capers, Marsala also would have done 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Saudi Arabia produces 9 million barrels a day, and can do 11 in a pinch.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘An on-board doctor could help the person out, and in a pinch, the flight could simply land somewhere quickly.’
      • ‘But in a pinch, when the chips were really down, both have been willing to do so.’
      • ‘I'm not that into cold cereal but could do that in a pinch.’
      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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Over the next three years, dozens of exploration companies were forced to close and the Texas banks which supported the industry felt the pinch.’
      • ‘The automotive industry, and the housing industry are both beginning to feel the pinch.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both men are septuagenarians who have felt the pinch of ageism in a business that often dismisses extensive experience and talent as irrelevant.’
      • ‘The position of the Coptic communities is becoming more insecure and they are the first to feel the pinch of hardship.’
      • ‘Consumers, though they may have felt the pinch from tightening bank lending standards, show little signs of slowing down.’
      • ‘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.’
      suffer hardship, have less money, be short of money, be poor, be impoverished, suffer poverty, suffer adversity
      View synonyms
  • have to pinch oneself

    • Used to convey that a good situation is so surprising that the person involved has to make sure they are not imagining it.

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

Origin

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

Pronunciation

pinch

/pɪn(t)ʃ//pin(t)SH/