from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To shrink back, as in fear; cower.
  • intransitive v. To behave in a servile way; fawn.
  • n. An act or instance of cringing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A posture or gesture of shrinking or recoiling.
  • n. A crick.
  • v. To bow or crouch in servility.
  • v. To shrink, tense or recoil, as in fear, disgust or embarrassment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To draw one's self together as in fear or servility; to bend or crouch with base humility; to wince; hence, to make court in a degrading manner; to fawn.
  • transitive v. To contract; to draw together; to cause to shrink or wrinkle; to distort.
  • n. Servile civility; fawning; a shrinking or bowing, as in fear or servility.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To bend; crouch; especially, to bend or crouch with servility or from fear or cowardice; fawn; cower.
  • Synonyms To stoop, truckle.
  • To contract; distort.
  • n. A servile or fawning obeisance.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. show submission or fear
  • v. draw back, as with fear or pain


Middle English crengen, to bend haughtily, probably ultimately from Old English cringan, to give way.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Via Middle English, from Old English cringan. (Wiktionary)



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