a small bed for an infant, usually on rockers.
any of various supports for objects set horizontally, as the support for the handset of a telephone.
the place where anything is nurtured during its early existence: Boston was the cradle of the american revolution.
a frame of wood with a row of long curved teeth projecting above and parallel to a scythe, for laying grain in bunches as it is cut.
a scythe together with the cradle in which it is set.
a wire or wicker basket used to hold a wine bottle in a more or less horizontal position while the wine is being served.
Artillery. the part of a gun carriage on which a recoiling gun slides.
a landing platform for ferryboats, rolling on inclined tracks to facilitate loading and unloading at different water levels.
Aeronautics. a docklike structure in which a rigid or semirigid airship is built or is supported during inflation.
Automotive. creeper ( def 5 ).
a shaped support for a boat, cast, etc.; chock.
truss ( def 9 ).
a moving framework on which a hull slides down the ways when launched.
a built-up form on which plates of irregular form are shaped.
Medicine/Medical. a frame that prevents the bedclothes from touching an injured part of a bedridden patient.
Mining. a box on rockers for washing sand or gravel to separate gold or other heavy metal.
an engraver's tool for laying mezzotint grounds.
Painting. a structure of wooden strips attached to the back of a panel, used as a support and to prevent warping.
verb (used with object), cradled, cradling.
to hold gently or protectively.
to place or rock in or as in an infant's cradle.
to nurture during infancy.
to receive or hold as a cradle.
to cut (grain) with a cradle.
to place (a vessel) on a cradle.
Mining. to wash (sand or gravel) in a cradle; rock.
Painting. to support (a panel) with a cradle.
verb (used without object), cradled, cradling.
to lie in or as if in a cradle.
to cut grain with a cradle scythe.
rob the cradle, Informal. to marry, court, or date a person much younger than oneself.

before 1000; Middle English cradel, Old English cradol; akin to Old High German cratto basket

cradler, noun
uncradled, adjective

3. birthplace, fountain, font, wellspring. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cradle (ˈkreɪdəl)
1.  a baby's bed with enclosed sides, often with a hood and rockers
2.  a place where something originates or is nurtured during its early life: the cradle of civilization
3.  the earliest period of life: they knew each other from the cradle
4.  a frame, rest, or trolley made to support or transport a piece of equipment, aircraft, ship, etc
5.  a platform, cage, or trolley, in which workmen are suspended on the side of a building or ship
6.  the part of a telephone on which the handset rests when not in use
7.  a holder connected to a computer allowing data to be transferred from a PDA, digital camera, etc
8.  another name for creeper
9.  agriculture
 a.  a framework of several wooden fingers attached to a scythe to gather the grain into bunches as it is cut
 b.  a scythe equipped with such a cradle; cradle scythe
 c.  a collar of wooden fingers that prevents a horse or cow from turning its head and biting itself
10.  Also called: rocker a boxlike apparatus for washing rocks, sand, etc, containing gold or gem stones
11.  engraving a tool that produces the pitted surface of a copper mezzotint plate before the design is engraved upon it
12.  a framework used to prevent the bedclothes from touching a sensitive part of an injured person
13.  from the cradle to the grave throughout life
14.  (tr) to rock or place in or as if in a cradle; hold tenderly
15.  (tr) to nurture in or bring up from infancy
16.  (tr) to replace (the handset of a telephone) on the cradle
17.  to reap (grain) with a cradle scythe
18.  (tr) to wash (soil bearing gold, etc) in a cradle
19.  lacrosse to keep (the ball) in the net of the stick, esp while running with it
[Old English cradol; related to Old High German kratto basket]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. cradol "little bed," from P.Gmc. *kradulas "basket." Cat's cradle is from 1768. Cradle-snatching "amorous pursuit of younger person" is 1925, U.S. slang.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

cradle cra·dle (krād'l)

  1. A small low bed for an infant, often furnished with rockers.

  2. A frame used to keep the bedclothes from pressing on an injured part.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see from the cradle to the grave; rob the cradle.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


in furniture, infant's bed of wood, wicker, or iron, having enclosed sides and suspended from a bar, slung upon pivots, or mounted on rockers. The rocking motion of the cradle is intended to lull the infant to sleep. The cradle is an ancient type of furniture, and its origins are unknown. Early cradles developed from hollowed-out tree trunks to oblong, lidless wood boxes, originally with apparently detachable rockers. Later cradles were paneled and carved, supported on pillars, inlaid, or mounted in gilded bronze.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Cradle cap is not contagious, nor is it caused by poor hygiene.
Some are said to have been allowed to cradle the newborns briefly before losing
Everyone is running out of the starting gate with their green idea without
  cradle to grave calculations.
Time, perhaps, for us to move on and for them to leave the cradle and grow up.
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