Definition of crumble in English:



  • 1 Break or fall apart into small fragments, especially over a period of time as part of a process of deterioration.

    ‘the plaster started to crumble’
    ‘their crumbling ancestral home’
    • ‘The stern of the boat crackled and crumbled, finally breaking off and falling with an enormous splash into the ocean.’
    • ‘To be sure it's all right to dig, take a handful of garden soil and squeeze it in your hand; if it clumps up, it's too wet to work; if it crumbles and falls away, go ahead.’
    • ‘He cast his gaze over the building, watching the brick as it crumbled and dust fell from the once elegant upper landing.’
    • ‘In that room you breathed books, that musty paper odor of yellowing pages and crumbling bindings.’
    • ‘There were different markings on the pillars, now crumbling or already broken.’
    • ‘Once state-of-the-art post-war buildings were crumbling away, with leaky roofs and rotting window frames.’
    • ‘Many were crumbling and falling in on themselves because of the massive artillery barrage that had taken place.’
    • ‘A national appeal has been launched after an architect's report revealed that over £4 million is needed to restore crumbling stonework.’
    • ‘The residents say the condition of the barracks is deteriorating with the wall crumbling away and the railing falling down.’
    • ‘The salad is usually half mixed greens and half spinach with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and maybe some crumbled blue cheese.’
    • ‘The envelope fragment was black and crumbling into ashes that fell within the creases of the notebook.’
    • ‘Near the exit, the ceiling started crumbling and falling on top of the room, much to their horror.’
    • ‘Before long the monument was lying fenced off and forgotten in overgrown woodland, slowly crumbling away.’
    • ‘As the three of them walked, they saw old statues and buildings, broken, dusty and crumbling.’
    • ‘Behind him stones fell and crumbled into the heap.’
    • ‘The 1940s workmen used cement mixed with granite fragments to replace crumbling medieval mortar, but that mixture has quickly eroded.’
    • ‘‘These grants will ensure problems such as leaky roofs and crumbling masonry are nipped in the bud,’ he added.’
    • ‘Indeed, the town's official website, while extolling all manner of museums and crumbling cultural artifacts, doesn't mention the nightlife at all.’
    • ‘Instantly she rushed up the steps, the only parts that hadn't crumbled and fallen.’
    • ‘He dug his small hands into the rock and dirt, watching bits crumble off and fall into the void of absolute nothingness below him.’
    disintegrate, fall down, fall to pieces, fall apart, collapse, break down, break up, tumble down, fragment
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    1. 1.1[with object] Cause (something) to break apart into small fragments.
      ‘the easiest way to crumble blue cheese’
      • ‘Using your fingers and thumbs, crumble the remaining mixture all over the top, covering as evenly as possible.’
      • ‘Or just crumble blue cheese, bacon or mushroom over the top.’
      • ‘Sprinkle the demerara sugar and rosemary over the top then crumble the remaining mixture over to more or less cover.’
      • ‘With one last pant, Nyerel ground with her plough into the rock-solid ground, crumbling the earth.’
      crush, grind, break up, pulverize, pound, powder, granulate, fragment
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    2. 1.2 (of an organization, relationship, or structure) disintegrate gradually over a period of time.
      ‘the party's fragile unity began to crumble’
      • ‘The tourists are still coming in their droves, to gawk at the city's crumbling, period elegance.’
      • ‘When the sugar industry started to crumble, Denmark began looking for buyers.’
      • ‘His cool character gradually starts to crumble, however, as his precious writing quills are taken away.’
      • ‘The relative ease with which the Stalinist edifice began to crumble after 1989 caught most observers off-guard.’
      • ‘By the time I had recovered, at the end of the 1980s, I think my link with music had begun to crumble once and for all.’
      • ‘As history dictates, every empire crumbles and falls eventually.’
      • ‘As central authority began to crumble, they rose in revolt across France and wrested self-government for their communities.’
      • ‘I should be looking forward to the prospect of the future, yet I continue to be scared and cling on to a past that crumbled apart a long time ago.’
      • ‘There are great fears he will strike out with terrible weapons as his regime crumbles and then falls.’
      • ‘The peaceful responsibility free life I had led until then slowly began to crumble around me, and I was too ignorant and in my own little world to notice it.’
      • ‘What had once seemed an unbreakable resolve - the hallmark of strong leadership - has begun to crumble at the edges.’
      • ‘Government figures have revealed there is a massive backlog of repairs to crumbling health service buildings across the country.’
      • ‘Yet it is widely known that much of the public-sector spending has resulted in substandard infrastructure that has crumbled within a short period of time.’
      • ‘That the mission is crumbling away is no surprise to anyone who has watched events unfold.’
      • ‘Making the mistake of taking a breath, my resolve crumbled and tears began to stream silently down my face.’
      • ‘But as the perfect family picture begins to crumble, each character's terrible secret is revealed.’


  • 1A mixture of flour and butter that is rubbed to the texture of breadcrumbs and cooked as a topping for fruit.

    • ‘The mousse was the better of the two, primarily because the richness of the chocolate was nicely offset by the coulis, but also because my crumble was so dry that it was a trial to munch through it to the raspberries underneath.’
    • ‘Sprinkle with the crumble mixture, but do not press it down as this will take away the lightness of the dish.’
    • ‘Finger-sized pieces of rhubarb sat enticingly in a shortbread-like pastry case, with a sprinkling of almond crumble on top.’
    • ‘Then I creamed a largish lump of butter into the flour and sugar mixture, worked it in with a spoon until it was all absorbed, and then poured the crumble mixture over the fruit.’
    • ‘Sprinkle this crumble mixture over the fruit, patting down gently - don't pack it down too firmly.’
    • ‘To make the crumble, put the flour, oatmeal, oat cereal and sugar into a food processor and blend for 30 seconds.’
    • ‘Distribute the crumble mixture evenly on top, and place a parsley leave in the center.’
    • ‘Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit, and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.’
    • ‘Tip on top of the fruit and bake till the fruit is bubbling under the pale, golden crumble.’
    • ‘The ingredients of a modern crumble are flour, butter, and sugar; a little spice is sometimes added.’
    • ‘Jayne's vegetable crumble, which consisted of mushrooms, carrots and broccoli in a creamy sauce topped with crumble and almonds, was equally as delicious.’
    • ‘In this splendidly moist cake, a layer of cooked rhubarb lurks beneath a sweetly spiced crumble topping.’
    • ‘Make the crumble by blitzing the flour and butter in the processor till they look like fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar.’
    • ‘Sprinkle a thick layer of the crumble mixture on top of the fruit.’
    1. 1.1 A dessert made with crumble and a particular fruit.
      ‘rhubarb crumble’
      • ‘We couldn't resist the home-made bread and butter pudding and the rhubarb and ginger crumble.’


Late Middle English: probably from an Old English word related to crumb.