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cringe (v.)

1570s, "to bend or crouch, especially with servility or fear," variant of crenge, crenche "to bend" (c. 1200), from causative of Old English cringan "yield, give way, fall (in battle); become bent," from Proto-Germanic *krank- "bend, curl up" (source also of Old Norse kringr, Dutch kring, German Kring "circle, ring"). Related: Cringed; cringing. As a noun from 1590s. Cringe-worthy (adj.) is attested by 1990.

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