Oxford English Dictionary
cringeworthy, colloq. (orig. Brit.)
Causing (or liable to cause) one to cringe with acute embarrassment, awkwardness, disgust, etc.; freq. designating or relating to an artistic production or performance which exhibits embarrassing incompetence, pretension, or sentimentality.1972 Beano 1 Apr. 10 ‘This is our new little chum Cuthbert Cringeworthy.’ ‘Greetings, ugly pupils!’] 1990 Independent 30 Mar. 14/6 He makes a virtue of using rhyming couplets by occasionally turning the device into a joke itself with cringeworthy rhymes‘I know I must do what I'm told / Fathers know better because they're old.’ 1995 Alternative Press May 97/1 Most Caucasians who play ‘soul’ music make cringeworthy spectacles of themselves, especially Brits. 2001 Sugar Feb. 13 Got a cringeworthy memory that still makes you blush when you think about it? Don't worry, 'cause you're not alone.
cringemakingly, Brit. colloq.
Such as to make one cringe; so intensely embarrassing, shameful, sentimental, etc., that one might cringe.
[Cringe (crintch), first found in 16th c., appears to be a phonetic modification (with ordinary Eng. change of eng, enge, to ing, inge, as in hinge, singe, wing: see CLINK v.2) of an earlier crenge, found with variant crenche early in 13th c. Crenge, crenche, represent OE. *crncgean, *crncean (:*krangjan, *krankjan), causal deriv. of the strong verb found in OE. with the double form cringan, crincan to draw oneself together spasmodically, to contract or shrink together into a bent or crooked position: see CRANK n.1 Primarily then crengen, crenchen was transitive, but already in 13th c. we find ‘cringe with the neck’.]
1. trans. To compress, draw together, or draw in (any part of the body) as in shrinking from pain or danger; to contract, distort (the neck, face, etc.). Obs.
2. intr. a. To draw in or contract the muscles of the body involuntarily; to shrink. b. To shrink in or away (as with fear); to cower.
3. intr. To bend the body timorously or servilely; to cower. Often applied derisively or depreciatively to bowing, with the implication of attendant servility or cowardice. Const. to (a person).
4. fig. To behave obsequiously or with mean submissiveness; to show base or servile deference.
5. trans. a. To bow deferentially to (a person). b. To bow a person in or out with cringes.
DRAFT ADDITIONS MARCH 2002
intr. fig. To experience an involuntary inward shiver of embarrassment, awkwardness, disgust, etc.; to wince or shrink inwardly; (hence) to feel extremely embarrassed or uncomfortable. Freq. with at.