Here is a sentence from a task management app:

The app allows you to add tasks in several ways and in one of them you can pinch apart two items in order to squeeze a task in between them.

I am not sure about the meaning of the phrase "pinch apart" here.

Any suggestions?


Likely this refers to a “spread” gesture (put down two fingers and move them apart), the opposite of pinching (put down two fingers and move them together). See this picture:

drag vs pinch vs spread

Because spreading is the opposite of pinching (and not as common a term) it makes sense that someone would refer to it as pinching apart.

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  • 1
    Some apps also call this reverse pinching. – Justin Sep 9 '19 at 6:29
  • I'm an app developer and I have never heard this referred to as spread, always reverse pinch. – user62908 Sep 9 '19 at 12:00
  • 1
    This answer gives a correct meaning generally, but I think "pinch apart" has been a turn of phrase since before multi-touch screens with pinch like actions were in use. While pinch often means to squeeze together between finger and thumb, it can also refer to a tight gap, so more precisely pinch apart means to separate just a little such as so that something can be squeezed into the gap. – TheAtomicOption Sep 9 '19 at 14:39
  • I agree that "pinch apart" is probably a newly invented phrase—maybe invented by the author of the paragraph that the OP quoted! I did a Google Books search for "pinch apart", and in printed books prior to 1998, the phrase "pinch apart" is only ever used with one meaning: "to separate into two pieces by contracting (pinching) a connecting part, to the point where the connecting part has been 'pinched' so much as to completely cease to exist." – Tanner Swett Sep 9 '19 at 16:41
  • There’s an old ELU question about the opposite of pinching in the context of touch screens. Pinching out, spreading and stretching were seemingly the common ones back then (five years ago). I’ve not heard of pinching apart before, nor of reverse pinching, though I have seen ‘pinch out’ in the wild. @Keith According to one answer on that page, Samsung calls (or used to call) it spreading in their manuals. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 9 '19 at 17:04

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