Definition of cradle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkreɪd(ə)l/


1A baby’s bed or cot, typically one mounted on rockers: the baby slept peacefully in its cradle
More example sentences
  • Cribs, cradles and bassinets are traditionally woven from wickerwork.
  • Rockers were found on cradles as early as the fifteenth century.
  • I looked towards the never-ending horizon, which was already holding the sun like a baby in a cradle.
crib, bassinet, Moses basket, cot, carrycot
1.1 (the cradle) Infancy: the welfare state was set up to provide care from the cradle to the grave
More example sentences
  • A person's journey from the cradle to the grave should be filled with joyous revelation, not filibustering and legislation.
  • In all their growing years, from the cradle until their 18th birthday, no one will ever, in any purposeful way, have said ‘No’ to them.
  • Collins is 41, a politician from the cradle, living and breathing the Westminster air.
1.2 (the cradle of) A place or process in which something originates or flourishes: the Middle East is generally held to be the cradle of agriculture
More example sentences
  • Furthermore, this land is the cradle and location of most of the important events of Christianity.
  • It was not long before Hispanic ballplayers earned their well-deserved place in the cradle of American baseball.
  • Big cities are both cradles and magnets for enterprise and creativity.
birthplace, fount, fountainhead, source, spring, fountain, origin, place of origin, breeding place, nursery, root, roots, seat, seed, germ;
beginning, start, origination, genesis, birth, dawning, dawn, emergence, inception, launch, creation, early stages, conception, inauguration, foundation, outset;
Latin fons et origo
formal commencement
literary wellspring
rare radix
2A framework resembling a cradle, in particular:
Example sentences
  • Content can also be displayed on a TV via the docking cradle.
  • Another handy new feature is the USB download cradle.
  • Logitech cleverly ships a charging cradle for their high-end cordless mice.
2.1A framework on which a boat rests during construction or repairs.
Example sentences
  • Calamity struck when the cradle on the trailer collapsed and crushed her boat.
  • High water levels, again, floated many boats off their lift cradles or up through roofs of covered docks.
  • Sounds of voices barking instructions competed with the rattle of chains as the boat and cradle were lowered down the slipway.
framework, rack, holder, stand, base, support, mounting, mount, platform, prop, horse, rest, chock, plinth, bottom, trivet, bracket, frame, subframe, structure, substructure, chassis
2.2British A framework on which a worker is suspended to work on a ceiling, ship, or the side of a high building.
Example sentences
  • Look at window cleaners, hanging in those little cradles on the sides of high rise buildings.
  • Two exceptionally cute and perky Canadian men were washing the windows in a cradle suspended from the roof.
  • The Nottingham-based workers were on a cradle inside the 200 ft high chimney at the factory.
2.3The part of a telephone on which the receiver rests when not in use.
Example sentences
  • His fingers made their way to the cradle the receiver was resting on, then just snatched the thing off and held it to his ear.
  • After a moment, she took the telephone from its cradle, dialing in a number quickly, and the recipient answered.
  • He pulled the receiver out of the cradle and dialed the number for the poison center at the local hospital.


[with object]
1Hold gently and protectively: she cradled his head in her arms
More example sentences
  • Tory stood slowly, gathering her bag into her arms, cradling it protectively to her chest
  • He sighed gently, cradling his bruised hand as an afterthought.
  • So O'Neill picked me up bridal style, cradling me gently in his arms.
hold, support, prop up, rest, pillow, bolster, cushion, shelter, protect
1.1 figurative Be the place of origin of: the north-eastern states cradled an American industrial revolution
More example sentences
  • She was the youngest daughter's youngest: cherished and protected and spoiled, cradled within the family's golden cocoon.
  • Marconi is the person at Weidlinger whose mind is currently cradling the vorticity confinement idea.
  • While the fallen have long since cast off their earthly form, the land which cradled them and shared their suffering will never disappear.
2Place (a telephone receiver) in its cradle: she cradled the receiver gently
More example sentences
  • Dad cradled the receiver just as the glob I flicked from my spoon landed directly on my brother's nose.
  • Leigh cradled the receiver carefully and looked at the small clock on the table beside her.
  • A telephone lay cradled in the perpendicular base under the directory.


Old English cradol, of uncertain origin; perhaps related to German Kratte 'basket'.

Words that rhyme with cradle


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cra¦dle

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