a physical reaction to something unpleasant
cringe - grimace
When you ‘cringe’, your body physically reacts to fear or embarrassment by grimacing or jerking away from the source of your discomfort. Such a reaction is typically involuntary but can on occasions be done simply for effect.
When I look at old photos of myself I can’t help but cringe at the sort of clothes I used to wear!
As soon as I raised my hand, Gary cringed away from me. I think he thought I was about to hit him!
I cringe at the thought of having to give a speech in front of so many people. I’m really going to be taken out of my comfort zone.