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A woman cringes in terror and remorse before Saint Clement

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English *crinchen, crenchen, crengen, from Old English *crenċan, *crenċġan, *crengan (to cause to fall, turn), from Proto-Germanic *krangijaną (to cause to turn), causative of Proto-Germanic *kringaną, *krinkaną (to fall), from Proto-Indo-European *grenǵʰ- (to twist, wind). Cognate with Scots crenge, creinge, creenge, crienge (to cringe, shrug), West Frisian kringe (to push, poke, insist, urge, pinch), Dutch krengen (to veer, careen), Danish krænge (to turn inside out, evert), Swedish kränga (to heel, lurch, toss, careen). Related to crinkle.


  • IPA(key): /ˈkɹɪndʒ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪndʒ


cringe (plural cringes)

  1. A posture or gesture of shrinking or recoiling.
    He glanced with a cringe at the mess on his desk.
  2. (dialectal) A crick.
  3. An embarrassing event, item or behaviour which causes an onlooker to cringe.


See also[edit]


cringe (third-person singular simple present cringes, present participle cringing, simple past and past participle cringed)

  1. (dated, intransitive) To bow or crouch in servility.
    • Milton
      Sly hypocrite, [] who more than thou / Once fawned and cringed, and servilely adored / Heaven's awful monarch?
    • 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk:
      He heard the hateful clank of their chains; he felt them cringe and grovel, and there rose within him a protest and a prophecy.
    • 1904, Jack London, Batard in The Faith of Men,
      Leclere was bent on the coming of the day when Batard should wilt in spirit and cringe and whimper at his feet.
  2. (intransitive) To shrink, cower, tense or recoil, as in fear, disgust or embarrassment.
    He cringed as the bird collided with the window.
    • Bunyan
      When they were come up to the place where the lions were, the boys that went before were glad to cringe behind, for they were afraid of the lions.
    • 1917, Jack London, Jerry of the Islands:
      But he made no whimper. Nor did he wince or cringe to the blows. He bored straight in, striving, without avoiding a blow, to beat and meet the blow with his teeth.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To contract; to draw together; to cause to shrink or wrinkle; to distort.
    • Shakespeare
      Till like a boy you see him cringe his face, / And whine aloud for mercy.

Derived terms[edit]


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