Definition of cripple in English:



  • 1Cause (someone) to become unable to walk or move properly.

    ‘a young student was crippled for life’
    ‘a crippling disease’
    • ‘In extreme cases, the young soldiers are crippled or even killed.’
    • ‘One man set the key example by challenging death, fighting a disease that crippled him.’
    • ‘The young crippled men who have been admitted to the home also enjoyed the music - they clapped and cheered as the band played.’
    • ‘Rising to leave, he winced as his legs cramped, almost crippling him with their intense pain.’
    • ‘I realized that he was quite crippled from the accident.’
    • ‘Myself personally I have told my husband that if anything happens he is not to let me come around if I am going to be crippled badly and brain damaged.’
    • ‘If he lives, he'll be a burden to her forever, brain damaged and crippled.’
    • ‘There are copious menu selections for those who might be crippled, incapable or weak.’
    • ‘Many survivors from the march have been crippled or maimed, but Ahir escaped with just a fracture in his right leg.’
    • ‘But he refuses to allow his children to be immunised against the disease that crippled him three decades ago.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A sizeable population of the villages neighbouring the border are crippled and maimed.’
    • ‘He was crippled, impaired, and everywhere he turned he saw dead ends.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The judges reportedly expressed more concern for the insurance companies who pick up the bill for damages than for those who are crippled or killed.’
    • ‘And the arthritis isn't the typical osteoarthritis that strikes so many older people or the less-common rheumatoid arthritis that can cripple victims as young as six months.’
    • ‘People are crippled and occasionally killed playing contact sports such as football and rugby, yet no one would suggest they are banned.’
    • ‘Her son was crippled after a road accident when he was five.’
    • ‘After the accident that crippled him, Delbert could no longer play mandolin.’
    • ‘A rude person with a fate of becoming disabled will eventually be crippled, but because of his/her personality not many people will care.’
    having a disability, wheelchair-using, paralysed
    disable, paralyse, immobilize, make lame, lame, incapacitate, debilitate, handicap
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    1. 1.1Cause severe and disabling damage to (a machine).
      • ‘The Obliterator was severely damaged in the ramming, but the alien vessel was crippled.’
      • ‘The Shattering Strike took another series of hits, which crippled its engines and left it's weaponry in ruins.’
      • ‘In today's high-speed networked computing environment, both inadvertent damage and malicious attacks can cripple a system in the blink of an eye.’
      • ‘Because of this bad judgment, my ship is crippled and we have no way to repair the damage with anything we have on board.’
      • ‘We must cripple the American war machine and lend all possible material support to those suffering its wrath.’
      • ‘There was little actual shot damage, but there were crippling collisions.’
      • ‘With 24 actual plies, it can withstand severe cuts that would cripple a tire with just 12 actual plies.’
      • ‘Finally, we should spread our eggs over many baskets, so that no single breakdown cripples our electricity grid.’
      • ‘The aim is to damage an adversary's capacity to attack by crippling its advancing armed forces.’
      • ‘However, it was modified to accept an electron bolt gun, giving it the ability to disable (/ cripple / damage) much larger ships.’
      • ‘Qualitatively, the Iraqi military machine is crippled, with no spare parts for its ancient equipment.’
      • ‘The firewalls on a PC are also disabled or crippled to ensure that the virus can replicate or allow external connections to a back-door installed on the PC.’
      • ‘In the meantime, a missile salvo from Comet struck the already damaged Claymore, crippling the ship.’
      • ‘Clearly, clamping locks on electronic equipment and intentionally crippling CDs wouldn't increase sales.’
      • ‘They aimed to cripple the machinery of war, not simply broaden disdain for it.’
      • ‘Only four or five compromised client machines can cripple a server; in this way it's a fiendishly economical attack.’
      • ‘We found that almost a dozen cameras were not attached to a recording machine, six could barely see in the dark and others were crippled by mechanical faults.’
      • ‘Dunkerque was only slightly damaged, but was crippled by torpedo aircraft during a second attack on 6 July.’
      • ‘The first part of their plan was to disable all orbital satellites around the earth, to cripple the technology of advanced secular nations.’
      • ‘Did the sudden motion cripple its electrical systems?’
  • 2Cause a severe and almost insuperable problem for.

    ‘developing countries are crippled by their debts’
    • ‘This may be true, but the damage imposed by the bombs has still crippled the London Underground.’
    • ‘News of the loan comes just days after prosecutors at his child sex-abuse trial claimed the singer has crippling debts of £155 million.’
    • ‘There was a chance, many hoped, that someone might finally take seriously the huge bad debts crippling the banking system, and the steady flow of mass sackings in a society used to full employment.’
    • ‘Now British players are calling for government intervention, warning that the foreign invasion could cripple the development of the game, despite a sharp rise in popularity in recent years.’
    • ‘We may be young and fairly likely to stay healthy, but one poorly timed illness or accident can cripple us financially before we've had the chance to establish ourselves.’
    • ‘Hundreds of farmers, who face crippling debts and bank interest payments, have said that the flood damage will force them into bankruptcy and off the land.’
    • ‘The club has crippling debts of more than £17,000 following 20 years of being run at a loss by members.’
    • ‘It could be crippled if relatives of the passengers sue for damages.’
    • ‘Accountants uncovered a string of irregularities in the company's figures and crippling debts.’
    • ‘These are countries badly affected by governmental mismanagement, failing economies due to debt and crippling poverty.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Landlords of an ancient Lancaster pub say work on a multi-million pound apartment development next door is crippling their family business.’
    • ‘In addition, the Taipei Railway Station was flooded and valuable equipment damaged, crippling the MRT system.’
    • ‘Business and consumer confidence is fragile, and there are fears that high debts could cripple future spending.’
    • ‘The student loan system may help us through our years as students, but cripples us after we leave.’
    • ‘The country's economy is crippled by debt repayments greater than the total amount spent on health and education.’
    • ‘It proved surprisingly easy to cripple vital services to households and businesses, and to disable or disrupt major public utilities.’
    • ‘A huge proportion of its income goes to finance an increasingly lame army, crippled by the cessation of Soviet support.’
    • ‘A blockade would cripple Taiwan economically without damaging its infrastructure.’
    • ‘We have developing countries being crippled by debt, so we need a more value-led globalisation.’
    ruin, destroy, wipe out, crush, break
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offensive, dated
  • 1A person who is unable to walk or move properly through disability or because of injury to their back or legs.

    1. 1.1A person with a severe limitation of a specified kind.
      ‘an emotional cripple’


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’


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