—n. 1. a small bed for an infant, usually on rockers.
2. any of various supports for objects set horizontally, as the support for the handset of a telephone.
3. the place where anything is nurtured during its early existence: Boston was the cradle of the American Revolution. 4. Agric. a. a frame of wood with a row of long curved teeth projecting above and parallel to a scythe, for laying grain in bunches as it is cut.
b. a scythe together with the cradle in which it is set.
5. a wire or wicker basket used to hold a wine bottle in a more or less horizontal position while the wine is being served.
6. Artillery.the part of a gun carriage on which a recoiling gun slides.
7. a landing platform for ferryboats, rolling on inclined tracks to facilitate loading and unloading at different water levels.
8. Aeron.a docklike structure in which a rigid or semirigid airship is built or is supported during inflation.
9. Auto.creeper (def. 5).
10. Naut. a. a shaped support for a boat, cast, etc.; chock.
b. truss (def. 9).
11. Shipbuilding. a. a moving framework on which a hull slides down the ways when launched.
b. a built-up form on which plates of irregular form are shaped.
12. Med.a frame that prevents the bedclothes from touching an injured part of a bedridden patient.
13. Mining.a box on rockers for washing sand or gravel to separate gold or other heavy metal.
14. an engraver's tool for laying mezzotint grounds.
15. Painting.a structure of wooden strips attached to the back of a panel, used as a support and to prevent warping.
16. rob the cradle,Informal.to marry, court, or date a person much younger than oneself.
—v.t. 1. to hold gently or protectively.
2. to place or rock in or as in an infant's cradle.
3. to nurture during infancy.
4. to receive or hold as a cradle.
5. to cut (grain) with a cradle.
6. to place (a vessel) on a cradle.
7. Mining.to wash (sand or gravel) in a cradle; rock.
8. Painting.to support (a panel) with a cradle.
—v.i. 1. to lie in or as if in a cradle.
2. to cut grain with a cradle scythe.