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.