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
    View synonyms
  • 2Cause (someone) to become unable to walk or move normally.

    ‘a young student was crippled for life’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One man set the key example by challenging death, fighting a disease that crippled him.’
    • ‘Her son was crippled after a road accident when he was five.’
    • ‘The young crippled men who have been admitted to the home also enjoyed the music - they clapped and cheered as the band played.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I realized that he was quite crippled from the accident.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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
    View synonyms


  • 1A person with a severe limitation of a specified kind.

    • ‘an emotional cripple’
  • 2dated, 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.