crip·​ple | \ ˈkri-pəl How to pronounce cripple (audio) \

Definition of cripple

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a 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



Definition of cripple (Entry 2 of 3)

: being lame, flawed, or imperfect


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

Definition of cripple (Entry 3 of 3)

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

Other Words from cripple


crippler \ ˈkri-​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce cripple (audio) \ noun
cripplingly \ ˈkri-​p(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce cripple (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for cripple

Synonyms: Verb

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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

Examples of cripple in a Sentence

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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Proposition 64, California’s 2016 landmark cannabis initiative, sold voters on the promise a legal market would cripple the drug’s outlaw trade, with its associated violence and environmental wreckage. Los Angeles Times, 8 Sep. 2022 Builders of big swimming pools and spas for custom homes in far-flung neighborhoods complained the cap could cripple their companies, and that lap pools and diving boards may become a thing of the past. Ken Ritter, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 July 2022 The political ambitions of 52 U.S. Senators seem again poised to cripple long-overdue climate reform, even after the United Nations gathered again to fret over our folly. Grayson Haver Currin, Outside Online, 1 Dec. 2021 With that protein being weak, the virus can infiltrate and cripple our immune system. Shelby Denise Smith, Essence, 30 July 2022 Train stations, dams, utilities, government buildings, air bases, ground bases, all are potential targets whose loss could cripple Ukraine’s military capability, morale, or economy. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 7 July 2022 What may cripple one could actually be a boost for another. Matthew Meehan, Forbes, 24 June 2022 Parents, particularly non-white ones, feel this most acutely, and because parents make up a big share of crucial middle- and upper-management roles, losing them can cripple a company’s future. Bill Schaninger, Fortune, 5 Apr. 2022 The actions could send Russia’s financial market into free fall and cripple the Kremlin’s ability to pay for its new war, which has intensified in recent days. Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2022 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.

First Known Use of cripple


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


13th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cripple


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

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

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Cripple Creek

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Cite this Entry

“Cripple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for cripple


crip·​ple | \ ˈkri-pəl How to pronounce cripple (audio) \

Kids Definition of cripple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

sometimes offensive
: a disabled person who is unable to fully use one or both of his or her arms or legs
Hint: In the past, this word was not considered offensive. In recent years, however, some people have come to find the word hurtful, and you may offend someone by using it.


crippled; crippling

Kids Definition of cripple (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause to lose the use of one or more arms or legs The accident crippled the boy.
2 : to make useless or powerless … fear can so cripple a person that he cannot think or act.— Jean Craighead George, Julie of the Wolves


crip·​ple | \ ˈkrip-əl How to pronounce cripple (audio) \

Medical Definition of cripple

 (Entry 1 of 3)

sometimes offensive
: an individual having a physical disability and especially a physically impaired leg or foot



Medical Definition of cripple (Entry 2 of 3)

: being a cripple : lame


transitive verb
crippled; crippling\ -​(ə)-​liŋ How to pronounce cripple (audio) \

Medical Definition of cripple (Entry 3 of 3)

: to deprive of the use of a limb and especially a leg crippled by arthritis

More from Merriam-Webster on cripple

Nglish: Translation of cripple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cripple for Arabic Speakers


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