Definition of crumb in US English:



  • 1A small fragment of bread, cake, or cracker.

    • ‘Grind fresh whole-wheat bread in a food processor to make fresh crumbs.’
    • ‘Adam licked the last few crumbs of bread from his lips.’
    • ‘My desk is now clear of cake crumbs, chocolate wrappers, crisp packets, coffee stains and assorted bits of paper that might or might not have had something to do with my job.’
    • ‘So I continuously have chocolate cake crumbs on my head, my hair, my jumper, my collar, my shoulders, my eyelashes, my tummy, my lap…’
    • ‘In your food processor, reduce the chocolate butter cookies to crumbs.’
    • ‘I turned around, looking where Thomas had sat just a moment before but now all that remained on the chair were a couple of crumbs of bread.’
    • ‘He stood and brushed the crumbs of bread off of him, knowing well how difficult it would be to follow his own advice.’
    • ‘Whiz the bread to rough crumbs in a food processor, or grate it by hand.’
    • ‘She came here in the summer to watch the Canada Geese huddle around picnickers, waiting for one of them to toss a crumb of bread.’
    • ‘To make the stuffing, whiz the bread in a food processor until it forms fine crumbs.’
    • ‘Angel held out an empty plate, with a fork and a few chocolate cake crumbs on it.’
    • ‘Put the biscuits in a large polythene bag and smash into fine crumbs with a rolling pin, or do this in a food processor.’
    • ‘Rowena looked around at the wreck of her cake, at all the dirty dishes and the cake crumbs under the cooling racks.’
    • ‘The little bird sang out again, and I rose and gave it a crumb of bread from the larder chest.’
    • ‘It looks good but when you cut into the cake it collapses into crumbs.’
    • ‘Wilhelm swallowed the last of the bread and dusted the crumbs from his hands.’
    • ‘Process chocolate wafers into fine crumbs in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.’
    • ‘Crush the biscuits into a crumb texture, add the melted butter and mix together.’
    • ‘He picked dully at the cheesecake dish, which was now empty except for a few stray crust crumbs and bits of cake smeared about, wondering idly if one could read cheesecake smears like tea leaves.’
    • ‘They analyzed the remains of food left in tombs as offerings and the residues of beer and crumbs of bread encrusted on pottery shards and vessels.’
    bit, section, slice, chunk, segment, lump, hunk
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    1. 1.1 The soft inner part of a loaf of bread.
      • ‘Many people build earth ovens for the crisp bread crust and chewy crumb texture that only high-temperature, retained-heat ovens can provide.’
      • ‘Serve the food in unusual containers such as bread bowls (sturdy round loaves with some inner crumb removed) and you can give up Fairy Liquid completely.’
      • ‘The key components in achieving a crusty bread with a lusciously soft crumb are heat and steam.’
      • ‘Cut off the end of the loaf and remove as much crumb as you can to make a fairly snug pocket.’
      • ‘Vegetable oil or another type of fat is often added to bread dough to improve crumb softness, loaf volume, and texture.’
      • ‘We started with tremendous sourdough bread whose moist grey crumb, chewy crust and deep sustaining flavour would certainly attract compliments and loyalty even in France.’
      • ‘A dusty orange color, spotted with crunchy hazelnuts and translucent golden raisins, the bread was tender and moist with a very delicate crumb.’
      • ‘Simple and sophisticated, its tight, buttery crumb is scented with kirsch and shot through with soft summer berries.’
      • ‘It is the smell of toast, and the sensations of the hot crunchy outside of the bread combined with the soft inner crumb and melted butter, that make it so appealing.’
      • ‘A better way of ensuring a domed top is to use either buttermilk, yoghurt or sour milk instead of fresh: all these give a light, tender crumb and an alluring, rounded crown.’
      • ‘The texture isn't bad and there's an interesting back flavour from the paprika added to the crumb.’
      • ‘Perhaps adding gluten will give that smoother finer crumb I associate with what I have been told is French bread, here at the bottom of the Pacific, a long way from France.’
      • ‘Halve ciabatta and lightly toast the crumb side. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil.’
      • ‘It made a deeply satisfying light meal, with a straightforward garnish of gem lettuce, fruity cherry tomatoes and a decent piece of white bread with a great crust and tasty crumb, generously drizzled with grassy olive oil.’
      • ‘It will allow for a greater fermentation without breaking, give more volume, and is much more desirable when you are looking for irregularity of the interior crumb.’
    2. 1.2US A dessert topping made of brown sugar, butter, flour, and spices and crumbled over a pie or cake.
      as modifier ‘apple crumb pie’
      • ‘And there's this really good inn next door and they serve delicious baked pudding and crumb cake and spiced bread and jam…’
      • ‘We shared chocolate bread pudding (which tasted like a soulless brownie) and apple crumb cake which was a depressing affair.’
      • ‘For crumb topping: Combine flour and sugar and cut in butter with pastry cutter until the texture is thick.’
      • ‘Call it an apple crumb, betty or crisp, it's a fast and delicious dessert.’
  • 2A very small amount of something.

    ‘the Budget provided few crumbs of comfort’
    • ‘In such lean times, we must search for crumbs of comfort.’
    • ‘And, of course, Thomas is going to gobble whatever crumb of a relationship that Sharon is willing to feed him.’
    • ‘Can you not look around you at all you have and, from such a position of success, take pity on those of us forced to battle each day for whatever crumb of self-respect we can muster?’
    • ‘Bad news for the employees who are set to endure an uncertain few weeks but a small crumb of comfort for the media who might have something to write about during the post-Christmas lull.’
    • ‘Often we are grateful for any little crumb that befalls us: some coded glance, some double entendre remark, some hinty, winking reference.’
    • ‘They know who has the upper hand and are afraid to speak out against this hand that provides only crumbs to them.’
    • ‘Knowing who is holding their son and having some idea that the hostage-taking was to raise awareness of impoverished villagers is a crumb of comfort to his worried parents.’
    • ‘I said maybe he is at some friends, to try to console her by offering crumbs of comfort.’
    • ‘Tanya started to say thanks but then decided against it, since she didn't mean even one pathetic crumb's worth.’
    • ‘The book is all songs and vignettes, with the odd crumb of action or smidgen of spoken words.’
    • ‘We possess only one crumb of information about that meeting in the novelist's country house.’
    • ‘Anyone watching (and trust me, there are some) will assume that I am soaking up every crumb of wisdom that falls from the speaker's lips.’
    fragment, bit, morsel, particle, tiny piece, speck, scrap, shred, sliver, atom, grain, granule, trace, tinge, mite, iota, jot, whit, ounce, scintilla, vestige
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  • 3North American informal An objectionable or contemptible person.

    ‘he's an absolute crumb’
  • 4Granulated rubber, made from recycled tires.

    • ‘‘We use a minimum of 25% recycled crumb rubber,’ says one of RPM's research and development chemists, ‘but the higher the density of the material, the more recycled rubber content we can use.’’
    • ‘Once an area has been worn down, it is difficult to reseed into because of the increased temperatures generated from the crumb rubber.’
    • ‘Nor was pH of infiltrated water altered with the crumb rubber sublayer addition.’
    • ‘The company recovers tyres from collectors and shreds them before selling the result as either lining for landfill sites or rubber crumb for all weather sports surfaces and carpet backing and underlay.’


[with object]
  • Cover (food) with breadcrumbs.

    ‘while the sweet potato is cooking, crumb the fish’
    • ‘My fishcakes are not breaded or crumbed, so they absorb less fat in the pan, especially if you use a non-stick one and wipe it out with butter paper for flavour.’
    • ‘We also ate a lot of mysterious crumbed meats accompanied with fried potatoes.’
    • ‘She did and like so many others was completely won over by this deep fried, crumbed delicacy which comes with the yummiest of dressings.’
    • ‘Lay fillet on absorbent paper and crumb the rest of the fish.’
    • ‘The pork chop was lightly crumbed, nicely trimmed and cooked to perfection.’
    • ‘I recently had a Wiener Schnitzel dinner that consisted of salad, chips and two large pieces of crumbed pork.’
    • ‘The chicken was nicely spicy, while the Brie, melted inside a crumbed envelope and served with a port and orange sauce, was simply delicious.’
    • ‘Being able to crumb a disgusting cut of meat, fry it and serve it with a foul tasting gravy and side of coleslaw doesn't mean you are number one in the culinary arts.’
    • ‘There's a tender, flattened, finely crumbed chicken milanesa plate with the same rice and plantains, and a pabellón criollo plate that adds heaps of black beans and chewy, pleasant shredded beef to the rice and plantains.’
    • ‘Then it was time to place our orders - three of us opting for the rump and the fourth for the spare ribs with a couple of deep-fried crumbed mushroom starters to share.’
    • ‘The entire dish was topped with crunchy bits of a crumbed bread, like panko (the Japanese breadcrumbs).’
    • ‘When all's ready, shallow fry the crumbed pork and slice.’
    • ‘I'm more of a crumbed chicken with mayo and an avocado salsa kinda girl.’
    • ‘I took this opportunity to experiment with frying bacon in the microwave (so-so) and crumbed the results liberally over the asparagus.’
    • ‘I had a steak soaked in what looked like a béarnaise sauce, smaller chunks of crumbed meat and strips of filleted fish laid along the side.’
    • ‘There was a large grilled crumbed fish which came with plenty of meat and fell apart.’
    • ‘That's what we got although hubby's stack of moist, pan-fried, crumbed snapper fillets would have put some seafood restaurants to shame.’


  • crumbs from someone's (or a rich man's) table

    • An unfair and inadequate or unsatisfactory share of something.

      • ‘At this year's summit they decided to drop some crumbs from their table by way of throwing some dollars at the world's trouble-spots.’
      • ‘It is that multinational corporations and the rich create wealth and he can then take crumbs from their table to distribute to the huddled masses.’
      • ‘Glasgow should not be embarrassed about taking the crumbs from the capital 's table.’
      • ‘She asked for the crumbs from the children 's table.’


Old English cruma, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kruim and German Krume. The final -b was added in the 16th century, perhaps from crumble but also influenced by words such as dumb, where the original final -b is retained although no longer pronounced.