[ krip-uhl ]
/ ˈkrɪp əl /
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verb (used with object), crip·pled, crip·pling.
to make a cripple of; lame.
Carpentry. jack1 (def. 29).
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Origin of cripple

First recorded before 950; Middle English cripel, Old English crypel; akin to creep

usage note for cripple

When referring to someone for whom it is difficult or impossible to walk or move without some kind of external aid like crutches or a wheelchair, sensitivity is called for. The words cripple and crippled are no longer considered appropriate. Although these terms have been in use since before the year 950, since the mid-1900s they have become increasingly uncommon and are now regarded as insulting. Since the late 20th century, the terms handicapped and the handicapped, once thought to be acceptable alternatives, have also become somewhat offensive. ( Handicapped remains acceptable, however, in certain set phrases like handicapped parking. ) Attempts to replace crippled with the milder euphemistic term physically challenged were sidetracked by a virtual explosion of satirical imitations like economically challenged (poor), ethically challenged (immoral), and vertically challenged (short). The currently acceptable terms are disabled and people with disabilities. These terms are not only less likely to offend, they are more useful. While cripple and crippled traditionally denoted permanent impairments of one or more limbs, disabled is a broader, more comprehensive word that can refer to many different kinds of physical or mental impairments, whether temporary or permanent.
cripple and crippled are not usually problematic when referring to an inanimate object or an animal. And cripple is unlikely to be deemed offensive as a verb, especially metaphorically, as in Failing to upgrade the computer system will cripple our business. See also retarded.


crip·pler, nouncrip·pling·ly, adverbun·crip·pled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use cripple in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cripple

/ (ˈkrɪpəl) /

offensive a person who is lame
offensive a person who is or seems disabled or deficient in some waya mental cripple
US dialect a dense thicket, usually in marshy land
(tr) to make a cripple of; disable

Derived forms of cripple

crippler, noun

Word Origin for cripple

Old English crypel; related to crēopan to creep, Old Frisian kreppel a cripple, Middle Low German kröpel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for cripple

[ krĭpəl ]

One that is partially disabled or unable to use a limb or limbs.
To cause to lose the use of a limb or limbs.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.