v. pinched, pinch·ing, pinch·es
1. To squeeze (something) between the thumb and a finger, the jaws of a tool, or other edges.
2. To cause pain or discomfort to (a part of the body) by pressing or being too tight: These shoes pinch my toes.
3. To nip, wither, or shrivel: buds that were pinched by the frost; a face that was pinched with grief.
4. To cause to be in difficulty or financial distress: "A year and a half of the blockade has pinched Germany" (William L. Shirer).
5. Slang To take (money or property) wrongfully. See Synonyms at steal.
6. Slang To take into custody; arrest.
7. To move (something) with a pinch bar.
8. Nautical To sail (a boat) so close into the wind that its sails shiver and its speed is reduced.
1. To press, squeeze, or bind painfully: This collar pinches.
2. To draw a thumb and a finger together on a touchscreen to cause the image to become smaller.
3. To be frugal or miserly: If we pinch, we might save some money.
4. Nautical To drag an oar at the end of a stroke.
1. The act or an instance of pinching.
2. An amount that can be held between thumb and forefinger: a pinch of salt.
3. Difficulty or hardship: felt the pinch of the recession.
4. An emergency situation: This coat will do in a pinch.
5. A narrowing of a mineral deposit, as in a mine.
6. Informal A theft.
7. Slang An arrest by a law enforcement officer.
Relating to pinch-hitting or pinch runners: a pinch single; a pinch steal of third base.
pinch pennies Informal
To be thrifty or miserly.
[Middle English pinchen, from Old North French *pinchier, variant of Old French pincer; akin to Italian pinzare, to sting, and Spanish pinchar, to prick, sting, all derived from a Romance imitative root *pints- expressive of pinching or pricking.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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