a. Often Offensive A person who is partially disabled or unable to use one or more limbs.
b. A nonhuman animal that is partially disabled or unable to use one or more limbs: cannot race a horse that is a cripple.
2. A damaged or defective object or device: “He ... would let that cripple of a steamboat get the upper hand of him in a minute” (Joseph Conrad).
tr.v. crip·pled, crip·pling, crip·ples
1. To cause to lose the use of a limb or limbs.
2. To disable, damage, or impair the functioning of: a strike that crippled the factory.
[Middle English crepel, from Old English crypel.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.