Definition of cripple in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkrɪp(ə)l/


[with object]
1Cause (someone) to become unable to walk or move properly: a young student was crippled for life (as adjective crippling) a crippling disease
More example sentences
  • A young man crippled by a disease of old age may not get the operation he and his family have been hoping and praying for over the last year.
  • When she was too crippled to walk more than a few steps, she still spread her husband's shirts out on the kitchen table and ironed them.
  • But he refuses to allow his children to be immunised against the disease that crippled him three decades ago.
disable, paralyse, immobilize, make lame, lame, incapacitate, debilitate, handicap;
maim, impair, damage, injure, hamstring
rare torpefy
1.1Cause severe and disabling damage to (a machine).
Example sentences
  • Qualitatively, the Iraqi military machine is crippled, with no spare parts for its ancient equipment.
  • However, it was modified to accept an electron bolt gun, giving it the ability to disable (/ cripple / damage) much larger ships.
  • They aimed to cripple the machinery of war, not simply broaden disdain for it.
2Cause a severe and almost insuperable problem for: developing countries are crippled by their debts
More example sentences
  • We have developing countries being crippled by debt, so we need a more value-led globalisation.
  • News of the loan comes just days after prosecutors at his child sex-abuse trial claimed the singer has crippling debts of £155 million.
  • With the county club faced with crippling debts there are reports that they may have to get rid of nine players when contracts are discussed in a few weeks' time.
ruin, destroy, wipe out, crush, break;
impair, hamstring, hamper, impede, cramp, spoil, sabotage, scotch, scupper, bring to a standstill, paralyse, enfeeble, weaken, render powerless, put out of action, put out of business, bankrupt, make bankrupt, make insolvent, impoverish, reduce to penury, bring someone to their knees
informal clean out, put the kibosh on, do for
North American informal rain on someone's parade
archaic bring to naught
rare vitiate, beggar, pauperize


dated or offensive
1A person who is unable to walk or move properly through disability or because of injury to their back or legs.
1.1A person with a severe limitation of a specified kind: an emotional cripple
More example sentences
  • Like so many other young British patricians, he was saved from becoming a complete emotional cripple by a tenderhearted nanny.
  • Judy Garland turns out to be a complete emotional cripple who tries to seduce me.
  • I thought you were supposed to drive them away and test them, and be really mean to them until they were emotional cripples and then they would never leave you.


The word cripple has long been in use to refer to ‘a person unable to walk through illness or disability’ and is recorded (in the Lindisfarne Gospels) as early as ad 950. In the 20th century the term acquired offensive connotations and has now been largely replaced by broader terms such as ‘disabled person’.





Example sentences
  • Efforts need to be made to bring down the rateable burden - it's a real crippler for young businesses.


Example sentences
  • The baht fell to half its previous price against the dollar, making foreign debt cripplingly expensive.
  • Home ownership is a distant dream; starting a family seems cripplingly expensive.
  • Either he's cripplingly shy, or afraid to get close to another human being.


Old English: from two words, crypel and crēopel, both of Germanic origin and related to creep.

  • This is a word of Germanic origin, related to creep (Old English), perhaps meaning ‘someone who can only creep’.

Words that rhyme with cripple

fipple, nipple, ripple, stipple, tipple, triple

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: crip¦ple

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