cripple

1 of 3

noun

crip·​ple ˈkri-pəl How to pronounce cripple (audio)
1
a
sometimes offensive : a lame or partly disabled person or animal
b
: one that is disabled or deficient in a specified manner
a social cripple
2
: something flawed or imperfect

cripple

2 of 3

adjective

: being lame, flawed, or imperfect

cripple

3 of 3

verb

crippled; crippling ˈkri-p(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce cripple (audio)

transitive verb

1
: to deprive of the use of a limb and especially a leg
the accident left him crippled
2
: to deprive of capability for service or of strength, efficiency, or wholeness
an economy crippled by inflation
crippler noun
cripplingly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for cripple

maim, cripple, mutilate, batter, mangle mean to injure so severely as to cause lasting damage.

maim implies the loss or injury of a bodily member through violence.

maimed by a shark

cripple implies the loss or serious impairment of an arm or leg.

crippled for life in an accident

mutilate implies the cutting off or removal of an essential part of a person or thing thereby impairing its completeness, beauty, or function.

a tree mutilated by inept pruning

batter implies a series of blows that bruise deeply, deform, or mutilate.

an old ship battered by fierce storms

mangle implies a tearing or crushing that leaves deep wounds.

a soldier's leg mangled by shrapnel

weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, undermine, sap, cripple, disable mean to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor.

weaken may imply loss of physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power.

a disease that weakens the body's defenses

enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness.

enfeebled by starvation

debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality.

the debilitating effects of surgery

undermine and sap suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously.

a poor diet undermines your health
drugs had sapped his ability to think

cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element.

crippled by arthritis

disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability.

disabled by an injury sustained at work

Example Sentences

Noun He returned from war a cripple. Verb Higher taxes could cripple small businesses. an economy crippled by inflation
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Another group calling themselves the Belarusian Cyber-Partisans aimed to disrupt regime communications, cripple infrastructure and leak names and addresses of security-service members. New York Times, 30 Mar. 2022 Defense Ministry bureaucracy was also beginning cripple operations. Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2021 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s team put an emphasis on China’s anti-satellite weaponry, which could be used to sever military communications in a conflict and cripple Western economies. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 1 Dec. 2020 Will that cripple teams to the point where games must be rescheduled? Mike Jones, USA TODAY, 1 July 2020 Some experts argued that Western countries could never enforce such draconian measures—which curtail human rights and cripple economies—but Italy, shocked by the strain on the health care system in the north of the country, followed suit on 9 March. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, 18 Mar. 2020 So a future reconciliation bill would not only cripple Obamacare and strip millions of Americans of health coverage obtained via the exchanges, but also kill the Medicaid expansion and throw millions more out of coverage. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 7 Oct. 2016
Verb
In many other parts of the country, lockdowns, mandatory quarantines, incessant mass testing edicts and travel restrictions continue to cripple businesses and daily life, even as the rest of the world moves on from the pandemic. Nectar Gan, CNN, 2 Nov. 2022 Ensler said factors that cripple learning in school systems like Montgomery’s are complex and that many start in the home. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, 24 Oct. 2022 But a new threat is already rearing its head, with soaring energy prices threatening to cripple car production on the continent. Bytristan Bove, Fortune, 11 Oct. 2022 Ransomware attacks continue to cripple organizations around the world. Ziv Kedem, Forbes, 5 July 2022 The administration put pressure on both sides to reach agreements before the Sept. 16 strike deadline because of concerns about how a strike might cripple the economy. Josh Funk, Chicago Tribune, 4 Oct. 2022 The administration put pressure on both sides to reach agreements before the Sept. 16 strike deadline because of concerns about how a strike might cripple the economy. Josh Funk, ajc, 4 Oct. 2022 The Trump Org would not be able to buy any real estate in New York for five years and have to remove the family members from their roles, which could cripple the firm. Howard Kurtz, Fox News, 22 Sep. 2022 Facebook’s last significant outage was in 2019, when a technical error affected its sites for 24 hours, in a reminder that a snafu can cripple even the most powerful internet companies. New York Times, 4 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cripple.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English cripel, from Old English crypel; akin to Old English crēopan to creep — more at creep

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cripple was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near cripple

Cite this Entry

“Cripple.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cripple. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

cripple 1 of 2

noun

crip·​ple ˈkrip-əl How to pronounce cripple (audio)
sometimes offensive
: a lame or disabled person

cripple

2 of 2

verb

crippled; crippling
ˈkrip-(ə-)liŋ
1
: to take away the use of a limb and especially a leg
was crippled by the accident
2
: to make useless or imperfect
loss of power crippled the city
crippler
-(ə-)lər
noun

Medical Definition

cripple 1 of 3

noun

crip·​ple ˈkrip-əl How to pronounce cripple (audio)
sometimes offensive
: an individual having a physical disability and especially a physically impaired leg or foot

cripple

2 of 3

adjective

: being a cripple : lame

cripple

3 of 3

transitive verb

crippled; crippling -(ə)-liŋ How to pronounce cripple (audio)
: to deprive of the use of a limb and especially a leg
crippled by arthritis

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