verb (used without object), cringed, cringing.
to shrink, bend, or crouch, especially in fear or servility; cower.
to fawn.
servile or fawning deference.

1175–1225; Middle English crengen, crenchen (transitive); Old English *crencean, crencgean, causative of cringan, crincan to yield, fall (in battle)

cringer, noun
cringingly, adverb
cringingness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cringe (krɪndʒ)
1.  to shrink or flinch, esp in fear or servility
2.  to behave in a servile or timid way
3.  informal
 a.  to wince in embarrassment or distaste
 b.  to experience a sudden feeling of embarrassment or distaste
4.  the act of cringing
5.  (Austral) the cultural cringe subservience to overseas cultural standards
[Old English cringan to yield in battle; related to Old Norse krangr weak, Middle High German krenken to weaken]

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

early 13c., from causative of O.E. cringan "give way, fall (in battle), become bent," from P.Gmc. *krank- "bend, curl up."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Many in the industry understandably cringed at the notion of ham-handed
  regulation being quickly adopted in response.
We watched the tapes, and cringed thinking everyone would die.
When they heard about the matchmaking scheme, both cringed.
Scientists and engineers often cringed at the distorting simplification, but
  the popular label stuck.
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