Have you ever seen someone do something so embarrassing that it made your skin crawl? If you did, it might be fair to say that you found it “Cringey”.
“Cringy” or “Cringey”?
The correct term is “Cringey” not “Cringy”. This is because the word is the adjective form of the verb “cringe”.
In this article, we’ll be looking at where the word comes from, what it means, why we hear it so much, and we’ll be looking at some rather entertaining examples.
Hopefully, at the end of this article, you’ll be able to avoid being “cringey” yourself. But let’s be honest, that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Google is wrong
I’m usually the type of person who likes to give praise where I can. But today, I’m going to have to tell someone e off, that someone is Google!
If you type “Cringey or Cringy” into Google, the first result will be a snippet from a website called “Preply” which will tell you the correct term is “Cringy”.
However, look in any dictionary. You will find that the correct spelling is “cringey”. Look in Google, Oxford, Cambridge, Mac Milan, Merriam Webster, or any other dictionary that you find online.
I find it very irresponsible that Google is promoting information that every dictionary disagrees with.
If something is cringey, it causes you to cringe. In less formal situations, you could use the term “cringe” as an adjective in place of “cringey”.
“Charlie’s latest Tik Tok is so cringe”.
The verb “cringe” means to “recoil in distaste”. This is something that we do by impulse when we feel second-hand embarrassment. We imagine how embarrassing this must be for the other person, and the level of humiliation is so high that we can almost feel it ourselves.
If someone does something “cringey”, they do something so embarrassing, it causes you to get embarrassed on their behalf.
That’s the main definition of “cringe”. But other meanings are not too prevalent in our everyday speech but are still correct to use.
To cringe can mean to shrink in terror, for example, an author might say someone “cringed in the corner when confronted by the killer”.
“Cringe” can also mean to behave in an overly humble way, for example, “beggars cringe tourists for money”. Meaning beggars are super needy and polite to get money from people.
And finally, “cringing” can be an involuntary reaction to cold or pain. “I cringed. That was when I realised I wasn’t wearing my coat in the snow”.
Cringe Worthy vs Cringey
Some people claim that “Cringey” is a portmanteau.
For those of you who won’t know, a portmanteau is when you combine two words to create one. In this case, we are combining the words “cringe” and “worthy”.
If you’re talking to people of the older generations, many of them will say “cringe worthy” rather than “cringey”. Despite being in the dictionary, “Cringey” is a relatively new entry.
Perhaps when writing a formal document, “cringe worthy” will be better to use than “cringey”.
Origin of the word “cringey”
As many of you will know from our previous articles, the English Language is a weird combination of several different languages from around the world. We’ve been invaded a lot, we’ve traded a lot, and our language has evolved naturally over time.
The word “Cringe” comes from the Old English “Cringan”, which means to yield, give way, or fall in battle. “Cringan” is a word that we got from the Proto-Germanic “Krant”, which meant to bend or curl up.
Despite “Cringe” being a relatively old part of our language, the adjective “cringey” is a new addition.
Examples of the use of “cringey”
Now for the fun part, let’s take a look at some examples of people being cringey.
The first one that pops to mind is the recent interview with Andrew Edward, talking to BBC reporter Emily Mattis.
In this interview, Andrew accidentally made it evident that he was engaged in behaviour that he should not have been engaged in. This made many of the viewers feel embarrassed on his behalf at just how terribly the interview went.
You might also find it “cringey” to watch videos of yourself when you were younger. The embarrassment that you didn’t feel at the time hits you like a ton of bricks upon rewatching.
And finally, when a comedian tries to be funny but fails, you might describe them as “cringey”.
Recently, social media has caused “cringe” to have somewhat of a resurgence. For some reason, it has become a popular word to describe people who fall into one of the following. Have a view that you would be embarrassed if you held or reasonable opinions that are expressed in a rather embarrassing manner.
Social media often enables words to become popular much quicker than they would have done in the days of print media. With the click of a button, anyone can know about your views.
Cringe vs Based
If I were to ask you “What is the opposite of cringe”. There are two schools of thought.
Some of you might say “agreeable” or “empowering”. And then the rest of you would say “based”.
On social media, “cringe” is used to refer to views you don’t agree with, and “based” is used to refer to ideas that you happen to agree with. Much of the time “cringe” is used as a way to shut down the conversation to avoid debate.
Perhaps in the future, I should do a piece about where the word “based” comes from, and why it’s become so popular.
“Cringey” is the adjective form of the verb “Cringe”; spelling it as “Cringy” is incorrect, despite what Google will tell you.
In the past, there was no such word as “cringe”, and people would have used the term “cringe worthy” in its place. Today, older people tend to say “cringe worthy”, whereas the youths would be more likely to say “cringey”.
Because of social media, and how fast it spreads words, the word “cringe” has seen somewhat of a resurgence. It is being contrasted with its new opposite, “based”.
So next time something is so bad it gives you second-hand embarrassment, it’s not cringy, it’s cringey.