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From earlier squize, squise (whence also dialectal English squizzen and squeege), first attested around 1600, further origin uncertain; probably an alteration of quease (which is attested since 1550), from Middle English queisen (to squeeze), from Old English cwēsan, cwȳsan (to crush, squeeze), itself also of unknown origin, perhaps imitative (compare Swedish qväsa, kväsa (to squeeze, bruise, crush; quell), Dutch kwetsen (to injure, hurt), German quetschen (to squeeze)). Or, a blend of obsolete squiss (to squeeze) (whence also squash and squish) with quease. Compare also French esquicher from Old Occitan esquichar (to press, squeeze).

The slang expression "to put the squeeze on (someone or something)", meaning "to exert influence", is from 1711. The baseball term "squeeze play" is first recorded 1905. "Main squeeze" ("most important person") is attested from 1896, the specific meaning "one's sweetheart, lover" is attested in 1970s.[1]

The nonstandard strong forms squoze and squozen, attested dialectally since at least the mid-19th century, are by analogy with freeze.


  • IPA(key): /skwiːz/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːz


squeeze (third-person singular simple present squeezes, present participle squeezing, simple past squeezed or (nonstandard) squoze, past participle squeezed or (nonstandard) squozen)

  1. (transitive) To apply pressure to from two or more sides at once.
    I squeezed the ball between my hands.
    Please don't squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle.
    • 1922 October 26, Virginia Woolf, chapter 1, in Jacob’s Room, Richmond, London: [] Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, →OCLC; republished London: The Hogarth Press, 1960, →OCLC:
      "Over there—by the rock," Steele muttered, with his brush between his teeth, squeezing out raw sienna, and keeping his eyes fixed on Betty Flanders's back.
  2. (transitive) To embrace closely; to give a tight hug to.
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To fit into a tight place.
    I managed to squeeze the car into that parking space.
    Can you squeeze through that gap?
  4. (transitive) To remove something with difficulty, or apparent difficulty.
    He squeezed some money out of his wallet.
  5. (transitive) To put in a difficult position by presenting two or more choices.
    I'm being squeezed between my job and my volunteer work.
    • 2013 May 23, Sarah Lyall, “British Leader’s Liberal Turn Sets Off a Rebellion in His Party”, in New York Times, retrieved 29 May 2013:
      At a time when Mr. Cameron is being squeezed from both sides — from the right by members of his own party and by the anti-immigrant, anti-Europe U.K. Independence Party, and from the left by his Liberal Democrat coalition partners — the move seemed uncharacteristically clunky.
  6. (transitive, figurative) To oppress with hardships, burdens, or taxes; to harass.
  7. (transitive, baseball) To attempt to score a runner from third by bunting.
    Jones squeezed in Smith with a perfect bunt.


Derived terms[edit]

terms derived from the verb "squeeze"


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


squeeze (plural squeezes)

  1. An instance of squeezing.
    to give something a squeezeto squeeze something
    • 2016 October 10, Ann Pelo, The Language of Art: Inquiry-Based Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings[2], Redleaf Press, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 98:
      Dip your sponge into the water, tehn turn it over and dip it again. That gets both sides wet. Now give it a squeeze to get most of the water out—but not all of it! You'll get the feel of how much water you need in your sponge as you practice with the clay.
  2. A close or tight fit.
  3. (figuratively) A difficult position.
    I'm in a tight squeeze right now when it comes to my free time.
    • 2016 June 30, Kate Murray, “How occupational therapists help keep older people out of hospital”, in The Guardian[3]:
      There is a growing recognition that, as the population ages and the squeeze on NHS resources continues, better ways of supporting older people outside hospital need to be developed.
  4. A hug or other affectionate grasp.
    a gentle squeeze on the arm
  5. (slang) A romantic partner.
    I want to be your main squeeze.
    • 1984, William Gibson, Neuromancer (Sprawl; book 1), New York, N.Y.: Ace Books, →ISBN, page 9:
      “No, Mona. Her new squeeze is one of Wage's boys.”
    • 1988, James Ellroy, Dudley Smith Trio: The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential, White Jazz, Random House, →ISBN, page 459:
      He spent nights cruising queer bars near the pad, saw Wiltsie at the dives, but always in the company of his squeeze, a guy he called 'Duane.'
    • 2012, J. Lamar, Tip Tap Toe, Xlibris Corporation, →ISBN, page 141:
      His young squeeze had just backed out and had not seen the assault on her “sugar daddy” when it happened!
    • 2014, N. Lombardi Jr., Journey Towards a Falling Sun, John Hunt Publishing, →ISBN:
      But even considering that, he might have been a bit more restrained if he hadn't run into his former sexy squeeze, Penny Atieno.
  6. (slang) An illicit alcoholic drink made by squeezing Sterno through cheesecloth, etc., and mixing the result with fruit juice.
  7. (baseball) The act of bunting in an attempt to score a runner from third.
    The game ended in exciting fashion with a failed squeeze.
  8. (card games) A play that forces an opponent to discard a card that gives up one or more tricks.
  9. (caving) A traversal of a narrow passage.
    It was a tight squeeze, but I got through to the next section of the cave.
    • 2003, Barbara Hurd, “The Squeeze”, in Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling through the Dark, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Company, →ISBN, page 11:
      The most notorious squeezes have names: the Gun Barrel, Jam Crack, the Electric Armpit Crawl, Devil's Pinch.
    • 2016, Diego Rodriguez, The Caver: Dig ... But Not to Far, Munich: BookRix, →ISBN:
      Prior to going back out to Mystery Cave again we spent a lot of time preparing. We made a squeeze box, which is a wooden box the opening of which can be adjusted in size. We could then crawl through the opening and measure to see how tight of a squeeze we could fit through.
  10. A moulding, cast or other impression of an object, chiefly a design, inscription etc., especially by pressing wet paper onto the surface and peeling off when dry.
    • 1828, JT Smith, Nollekens and His Times, Century Hutchinson, published 1986, page 65:
      Nollekens, finding his wife always benefited by these visits, never refused White a squeeze of a patera, or any thing that would answer his purpose; [] White [] had turned his wine-cellars into manufactories for the produce of cast coins, and moderns squeezes from Roman lamps.
  11. (mining) The gradual closing of workings by the weight of the overlying strata.
  12. (dated) The situation experienced by a middleman when pressured from both sides, especially financially.
    • 1898, Archibald R. Colquhoun, China in Transformation, page 47:
      Thus was established a powerful Chinese combination, which maintained itself by submitting to a heavy "squeeze" at the hands of the Viceroy and Governor of Canton on the one hand and of the Hoppo on the other.
  13. (dated) A bribe, fee, or extortionary price paid to a middleman, especially in China; the practice of requiring such a bribe or fee.
    • 1882, William C. Hunter, The "Fan Kwae" at Canton before treaty days 1825-1844:
      If the licence [] was costly, it secured to them uninterrupted and extraordinary pecuniary advantages; but on the other hand it subjected them to 'calls' or 'squeezes' for contributions to public works, [] for the relief of districts suffering from scarcity [] as well as for the often imaginary [] damage caused by the overflowing of the 'Yangtse Keang' or the 'Yellow River.'
    • 1899 February, Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CLXV, number M, New York, N.Y.: The Leonard Scott Publishing Company, [], →OCLC, part I, page 196:
      They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]