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

  • transitive v. To squeeze between the thumb and a finger, the jaws of a tool, or other edges.
  • transitive v. To squeeze or bind (a part of the body) in a way that causes discomfort or pain: These shoes pinch my toes.
  • transitive v. To nip, wither, or shrivel: buds that were pinched by the frost; a face that was pinched with grief.
  • transitive v. To straiten: "A year and a half of the blockade has pinched Germany” ( William L. Shirer).
  • transitive v. Slang To take (money or property) unlawfully. See Synonyms at steal.
  • transitive v. Slang To take into custody; arrest.
  • transitive v. To move (something) with a pinch bar.
  • transitive v. Nautical To sail (a boat) so close into the wind that its sails shiver and its speed is reduced.
  • intransitive v. To press, squeeze, or bind painfully: This collar pinches.
  • intransitive v. To be miserly.
  • intransitive v. Nautical To drag an oar at the end of a stroke.
  • n. The act or an instance of pinching.
  • n. An amount that can be held between thumb and forefinger: a pinch of salt.
  • n. A painful, difficult, or straitened circumstance: felt the pinch of the recession.
  • n. An emergency situation: This coat will do in a pinch.
  • n. A narrowing of a mineral deposit, as in a mine.
  • n. Informal A theft.
  • n. Slang An arrest by a law enforcement officer.
  • adj. Baseball Relating to pinch-hitting or pinch runners: a pinch single; a pinch steal of third base.
  • idiom pinch pennies Informal To be thrifty or miserly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To squeeze a small amount of a person's skin and flesh, making it hurt.
  • v. To steal, usually of something almost trivial or inconsequential.
  • v. To arrest or capture.
  • v. To cut shoots or buds of a plant in order to shape the plant, or to improve its yield.
  • v. To sail so close-hauled that the sails begin to flutter.
  • n. The action of squeezing a small amount of a person's skin and flesh, making it hurt.
  • n. A small amount of powder or granules, such that the amount could be held between fingertip and thumb tip.
  • n. An awkward situation of some kind (especially money or social) which is difficult to escape.
  • n. An organic herbal smoke additive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A close compression, as with the ends of the fingers, or with an instrument; a nip.
  • n. As much as may be taken between the finger and thumb; any very small quantity.
  • n. Pian; pang.
  • n. A lever having a projection at one end, acting as a fulcrum, -- used chiefly to roll heavy wheels, etc. Called also pinch bar.
  • intransitive v. To act with pressing force; to compress; to squeeze.
  • intransitive v. To take hold; to grip, as a dog does.
  • intransitive v. To spare; to be niggardly; to be covetous.
  • transitive v. To press hard or squeeze between the ends of the fingers, between teeth or claws, or between the jaws of an instrument; to squeeze or compress, as between any two hard bodies.
  • transitive v. to seize; to grip; to bite; -- said of animals.
  • transitive v. To plait.
  • transitive v. Figuratively: To cramp; to straiten; to oppress; to starve; to distress.
  • transitive v. To move, as a railroad car, by prying the wheels with a pinch. See Pinch, n., 4.
  • transitive v. To seize by way of theft; to steal; to lift.
  • transitive v. to catch; to arrest (a criminal).

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To compress between the finger and thumb, or between the teeth, or the claws, or with pincers or some similar instrument; squeeze or nip between two hard opposing bodies; nip; squeeze: as, to pinch one's self to keep awake.
  • To squeeze or press painfully upon: as, his shoes pinch his feet.
  • To seize or grip and bite: said of an animal.
  • To find fault with.
  • To plait.
  • To straiten; distress; afflict: as, to be pinched for food; pinched with poverty.
  • To narrow, contract, or nip, as by cold or want or trouble: as, pinched features; a mind narrow and pinched.
  • To move with a pinch or crowbar: as, to pinch a gun into position.
  • To exert a compressing or nipping pressure or force; bear hard: as, that is where the shoe pinches.
  • To lay hold; bite or snap, as a dog.
  • To snarl; carp; find fault.
  • To be sparing, parsimonious, or niggardly.
  • To encroach.
  • To arrest (an offender).
  • To steal.
  • Nautical, to sail (a vessel) as close to the wind as she can be brought without spilling the wind out of the sails, that is, without luffing her. A sailing-vessel is said to be starved for wind when she is pinched hard.
  • To compress or be squeezed out, as mineral ore from between rock strata.
  • n. The pressure exerted by the finger and thumb when brought together forcibly upon something, or any similar pressure; a nip: as, to give one a pinch on the arm.
  • n. As much of anything as can be lifted between the finger and thumb; hence, a very small quantity: as, a pinch of snuff; a pinch of salt.
  • n. A gripe; a pang.
  • n. Pressure; oppression; difficulty; need.
  • n. A pinch-bar.
  • n. In mining, a partial caving in or compression of the walls of a vein of ore or of a coal-bed, sufficient to disturb the ore or coal-bed. Sometimes called a pinch-out.

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

  • n. a sudden unforeseen crisis (usually involving danger) that requires immediate action
  • v. irritate as if by a nip, pinch, or tear
  • n. a slight but appreciable amount
  • n. a squeeze with the fingers
  • n. the act of apprehending (especially apprehending a criminal)
  • v. cut the top off
  • n. a painful or straitened circumstance
  • n. a small sharp bite or snip
  • v. make off with belongings of others
  • v. squeeze tightly between the fingers
  • n. an injury resulting from getting some body part squeezed
  • v. make ridges into by pinching together


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

Middle English pinchen, from Old North French *pinchier, variant of Old French pincier, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *pīnctiāre.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English pinchen, from Anglo-Norman *pinchier (compare Old French pincer, pincier ("to pinch, find fault")), from Vulgar Latin *pincāre, a nasalised variant of Vulgar Latin *piccāre (“to pick, pierce”), from Frankish *pikkōn, from Proto-Germanic *pikōnan, *pukanan (“to pick, peck, prick, knock”), from Proto-Indo-European *beu-, *bu- (“to make a dull sound”). Cognate with Old English pȳcan, pician ("to pick, pluck"), Old Norse pikka ("to prick, peck"), Middle Dutch and Middle Low German picken ("to pick, peck, pierce"), German pochen ("to knock, pound, thump"). More at pick.



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