- To cringe is to draw back or to move your face or body in order to shrink from danger or fear.
An example of cringe is when you duck backwards because you are afraid you are going to get hit.
intransitive verbcringed, cringing
- to draw back, bend, crouch, etc., as when afraid; shrink from something dangerous or painful
- to act in a timid, servile manner; fawn
Origin of cringeMiddle English crengen (with nasalized vowel as in hinge), causative ; from Old English cringan, to fall (in battle): for Indo-European base see cradle
intransitive verbcringed cringed, cring·ing, cring·es
- To shrink back, as in fear; cower.
- To behave in a servile way; fawn.
Origin of cringeMiddle English crengen, to bend haughtily, probably ultimately from Old English cringan, to give way.
(third-person singular simple present cringes, present participle cringing, simple past and past participle cringed)
From Middle English *crinchen, crenchen, crengen, from Old English cringan, crincan (“to yield, cringe; fall; perish, die”), from Proto-Germanic *kringaną, *krinkaną (“to fall”), from Proto-Indo-European *ger- (“to twist, wind”). Cognate with Scots crenge, creinge, creenge, crienge (“to cringe, shrug”). Related to crinkle.