to squeeze or compress between the finger and thumb, the teeth, the jaws of an instrument, or the like.
to constrict or squeeze painfully, as a tight shoe does.
to cramp within narrow bounds or quarters:
The crowd pinched him into a corner.
to render (the face, body, etc.) unnaturally constricted or drawn, as pain or distress does:
Years of hardship had pinched her countenance beyond recognition.
to affect with sharp discomfort or distress, as cold, hunger, or need does.
to straiten in means or circumstances:
The depression pinched them.
to stint (a person, family, etc.) in allowance of money, food, or the like:
They were severely pinched by the drought.
to hamper or inconvenience by the lack of something specified:
The builders were pinched by the shortage of good lumber.
to stint the supply or amount of (a thing).
to put a pinch or small quantity of (a powder, spice, etc.) into something.
to roll or slide (a heavy object) with leverage from a pinch bar.
Digital Technology. to move two or more fingers toward or away from each other on (a touchscreen) in order to execute a command (often followed by in or out):
Zoom in by pinching the screen.
Horticulture. to remove or shorten (buds or shoots) in order to produce a certain shape of the plant, improve the quality of the bloom or fruit, or increase the development of buds (often followed by out, off, or back).
Nautical. to sail (a ship) so close to the wind that the sails shake slightly and the speed is reduced.
Horse Racing, British. to press (a horse) to the point of exhaustion.
verb (used without object)
to exert a sharp or painful constricting force:
This shoe pinches.
to cause sharp discomfort or distress:
Their stomachs were pinched with hunger.
to economize unduly; stint oneself:
They pinched and scraped for years to save money for a car.
Digital Technology. to move the fingers toward or away from each other on a touchscreen (often followed by in or out):
Pinching in will zoom in, and pinching out will zoom out.
to diminish to nothing (sometimes followed by out).
Nautical. to trim a sail too flat when sailing to windward.
the act of pinching; nip; squeeze.
as much of anything as can be taken up between the finger and thumb:
a pinch of salt.
a very small quantity of anything:
a pinch of pungent wit.
sharp or painful stress, as of hunger, need, or any trying circumstances:
the pinch of conscience; to feel the pinch of poverty.
a situation or time of special stress, especially an emergency:
A friend is someone who will stand by you in a pinch.
c.1230, from O.N.Fr. *pinchier, var. of O.Fr. pincier, possibly from V.L. *punctiare "to pierce" (from L. punctum "point"), and *piccare "to pierce." Meaning "to steal" is from 1656. Sense of "to be stingy" is recorded from early 14c. Noun meaning "critical juncture" (as in baseball pinch hitter, attested from 1912) is from 1489; older than the literal sense of "act of pinching" (1591).