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From Middle English pinchen, from Old French *pinchier, pincer (to pinch), from Vulgar Latin *pinciāre (to puncture, pinch), from possible merger of *punctiāre (a puncture, sting), from Latin punctiō (a puncture, prick) and *piccāre (to strike, sting), from Frankish *pikkōn, from Proto-Germanic *pikkōną (to pick, peck, prick).



pinch (third-person singular simple present pinches, present participle pinching, simple past and past participle pinched)

  1. To squeeze a small amount of a person's skin and flesh, making it hurt.
    The children were scolded for pinching each other.
    This shoe pinches my foot.
  2. To squeeze between the thumb and forefinger.
    • 2014, Harlan Ellison, Paingod and Other Delusions, ISBN 1497604443:
      He took the plate in his hand, holding it between thumb and forefinger at one corner, letting it hang down. With the other hand he pinched it at the opposite corner, pressing thumb and forefinger together tightly.
  3. To squeeze between two objects.
    • 2012, Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Physics of Nanostructured Solid State Devices, ISBN 1461411416, page 446:
      Since the resistance of the channel is inversely proportional to its width, the most resistive region is the one pinched between the gates where they come closest to each other.
  4. To steal, usually of something almost trivial or inconsequential.
    Someone has pinched my handkerchief!
    • 2012 May 13, Alistair Magowan, “Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Then, as the Sunderland fans' cheers bellowed around the stadium, United's title bid was over when it became apparent City had pinched a last-gasp winner to seal their first title in 44 years.
  5. (slang) To arrest or capture.
  6. (horticulture) To cut shoots or buds of a plant in order to shape the plant, or to improve its yield.
  7. (nautical) To sail so close-hauled that the sails begin to flutter.
  8. (hunting) To take hold; to grip, as a dog does.
  9. (obsolete) To be niggardly or covetous.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Gower to this entry?)
    • Franklin
      the wretch whom avarice bids to pinch and spare
  10. To seize; to grip; to bite; said of animals.
    • Chapman
      He [the hound] pinched and pulled her down.
  11. (figuratively) To cramp; to straiten; to oppress; to starve.
    to be pinched for money
    • Sir Walter Raleigh
      want of room [] pinching a whole nation
  12. To move, as a railroad car, by prying the wheels with a pinch.
  13. (obsolete) To complain or find fault.
    • Chaucer, 'The Good Parson'
      Therefore whoso doth them accuse
      Of any double intentión,
      To speaké rown, other to muse,
      To pinch at their conditión,
      All is but false collusión,
      I dare right well the soth express,
      They have no better protectión,
      But shourd them under doubleness.

Related terms[edit]



Wikipedia has an article on:

pinch (plural pinches)

  1. The action of squeezing a small amount of a person's skin and flesh, making it hurt.
  2. A small amount of powder or granules, such that the amount could be held between fingertip and thumb tip.
  3. An awkward situation of some kind (especially money or social) which is difficult to escape.
    • 1955, Rex Stout, "Die Like a Dog", in Three Witnesses, October 1994 Bantam edition, ISBN 0553249592, page 171:
      It took nerve and muscle both to carry the body out and down the stairs to the lower hall, but he damn well had to get it out of his place and away from his door, and any of those four could have done it in a pinch, and it sure was a pinch.
  4. An organic herbal smoke additive.
  5. (physics) A magnetic compression of an electrically-conducting filament

Derived terms[edit]