verb (used with object), crum·bled, crum·bling.

to break into small fragments or crumbs.

verb (used without object), crum·bled, crum·bling.

to fall into small pieces; break or part into small fragments.
to decay or disintegrate gradually: The ancient walls had crumbled.


a crumbly or crumbled substance.
crumbles, bits of crisp bacon, bread, etc., added to other foods, especially as a topping.
British Dialect. crumb; particle; fragment.

Origin of crumble

1375–1425; earlier crymble, crimble; late Middle English kremelen, akin to crome crumb; see -le
Related formscrum·bling·ness, nounhalf-crum·bled, adjectiveun·crum·bled, adjective

Synonyms for crumble



plural noun

crumbs; crumbled bits.

Origin of crumblings Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for crumbling

decaying, breaking

Examples from the Web for crumbling

Contemporary Examples of crumbling

Historical Examples of crumbling

  • Mauburn felt the rock foundations of Manhattan Island to be crumbling to dust.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • And in the immediate foreground were the tumbled, crumbling memorials of the dead.

    Galusha the Magnificent

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Comfort was the apex of the pyramid which is now crumbling away.

    England and Germany

    Emile Joseph Dillon

  • The masonry of the greater part of the wall was old and crumbling.

    At Aboukir and Acre

    George Alfred Henty

  • The air was filled with smoke and dust from the crumbling plaster.

British Dictionary definitions for crumbling



to break or be broken into crumbs or fragments
(intr) to fall apart or awayhis resolution crumbled


British a baked pudding consisting of a crumbly mixture of flour, fat, and sugar over stewed fruitapple crumble

Word Origin for crumble

C16: variant of crimble, of Germanic origin; compare Low German krömeln, Dutch kruimelen
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

Word Origin and History for crumbling



late 15c., kremelen, from Old English *crymelan, presumed frequentative of gecrymman "to break into crumbs," from cruma (see crumb). The -b- is 16c., probably on analogy of French-derived words like humble, where it belongs, or by influence of crumb. Related: Crumbled; crumbling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with crumbling


see that's how the ball bounces (cookie crumbles).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.