Meaning of cripple in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkrɪp(ə)l/

See synonyms for cripple

Translate cripple into Spanish


[with object]
  • 1Cause severe and disabling damage to; deprive of the ability to function normally.

    ‘developing countries are crippled by their debts’
    • ‘he was crippled by self-doubt during his career’
    • ‘interest rates rose to a crippling 13 per cent’
    ruin, destroy, wipe out, crush, break
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  • 2Cause (someone) to become unable to walk or move normally.

    ‘a young student was crippled for life’
    • ‘But he refuses to allow his children to be immunised against the disease that crippled him three decades ago.’
    • ‘One man set the key example by challenging death, fighting a disease that crippled him.’
    • ‘After the accident that crippled him, Delbert could no longer play mandolin.’
    • ‘In extreme cases, the young soldiers are crippled or even 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.’
    • ‘Rising to leave, he winced as his legs cramped, almost crippling him with their intense pain.’
    • ‘People are crippled and occasionally killed playing contact sports such as football and rugby, yet no one would suggest they are banned.’
    • ‘He was crippled, impaired, and everywhere he turned he saw dead ends.’
    • ‘A sizeable population of the villages neighbouring the border are crippled and maimed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many survivors from the march have been crippled or maimed, but Ahir escaped with just a fracture in his right leg.’
    disable, paralyse, immobilize, incapacitate, debilitate
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  • 1A person with a severe limitation of a specified kind.

    • ‘an emotional cripple’
  • 2 dated, offensive A person who is unable to walk or move normally through disability or because of injury to their back or legs.


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.