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[krinj] /krɪndʒ/
verb (used without object), cringed, cringing.
to shrink, bend, or crouch, especially in fear or servility; cower.
to fawn.
servile or fawning deference.
Origin of cringe
1175-1225; Middle English crengen, crenchen (transitive); Old English *crencean, crencgean, causative of cringan, crincan to yield, fall (in battle)
Related forms
cringer, noun
cringingly, adverb
cringingness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cringing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The bandit looked down in utter disgust at the cringing form.

    The Bad Man Charles Hanson Towne
  • He was cringing back, white-faced, from the edge of the gulch.

    Out of the Depths Robert Ames Bennet
  • Before she knew this Beverley, I loved her; but like 434 a cringing fool, bowed at a distance, while He stept in and won her.

    The Gamester (1753) Edward Moore
  • He stalked up to the cringing Harper, thrust his face toward him.

    The 4-D Doodler Graph Waldeyer
  • He thrust his fat hand, its nails bitten down to the quick and beyond, in front of the cringing alien's eyes.

    Citadel Algirdas Jonas Budrys
British Dictionary definitions for cringing


verb (intransitive)
to shrink or flinch, esp in fear or servility
to behave in a servile or timid way
  1. to wince in embarrassment or distaste
  2. to experience a sudden feeling of embarrassment or distaste
the act of cringing
(Austral) the cultural cringe, subservience to overseas cultural standards
Derived Forms
cringer, noun
cringingly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English cringan to yield in battle; related to Old Norse krangr weak, Middle High German krenken to weaken
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cringing



early 13c., from causative of Old English cringan "give way, fall (in battle), become bent," from Proto-Germanic *krank- "bend, curl up" (cf. Old Norse kringr, Dutch kring, German Kring "circle, ring"). Related: Cringed; cringing. As a noun from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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