1 [kramp]
Often, cramps.
a sudden, involuntary, spasmodic contraction of a muscle or group of muscles, especially of the extremities, sometimes with severe pain.
a piercing pain in the abdomen.
an intermittent, painful contraction of structures of a wall containing involuntary muscle, as in biliary colic or in the uterine contractions of menstruation or of labor.
verb (used with object)
to affect with or as if with a cramp.

1325–75; Middle English crampe < Old French < Germanic; cognate with Middle Dutch crampe, Old Saxon krampo, Old High German krampfo; derivative of adj. meaning narrow, constrained, bent; compare Old High German krampf, Old Norse krappr; akin to crimp Unabridged


2 [kramp]
a portable frame or tool with a movable part that can be screwed up to hold things together; clamp.
anything that confines or restrains.
a cramped state or part.
verb (used with object)
to fasten or hold with a cramp.
to confine narrowly; restrict; restrain; hamper.
to turn (the front wheels of a motor vehicle) by means of the steering gear; steer.
cramp one's style, Informal. to prevent one from showing one's best abilities.

1375–1425; late Middle English crampe < Middle Dutch: hook. See cramp1

crampingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cramp1 (kræmp)
1.  a painful involuntary contraction of a muscle, typically caused by overexertion, heat, or chill
2.  temporary partial paralysis of a muscle group: writer's cramp
3.  (usually plural in the US and Canada) severe abdominal pain
4.  (tr) to affect with or as if with a cramp
[C14: from Old French crampe, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German krampho]

cramp2 (kræmp)
1.  Also called: cramp iron a strip of metal with its ends bent at right angles, used to bind masonry
2.  a device for holding pieces of wood while they are glued; clamp
3.  something that confines or restricts
4.  a confined state or position
5.  to secure or hold with a cramp
6.  to confine, hamper, or restrict
7.  informal cramp someone's style to prevent a person from using his abilities or acting freely and confidently
[C15: from Middle Dutch crampe cramp, hook, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German khramph bent; see cramp1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"muscle contraction," late 14c., from O.Fr. crampe, from a Frankish word (cf. O.H.G. krapmhe "cramp, spasm," related to kramph "bent, crooked"). The same P.Gmc. root yielded M.Du. crampe, M.L.G. krampe, one of which gave Eng. cramp "a metal bar bent at both ends" (c.1500), which yielded a metaphoric
sense (first recorded 1719) of "something that confines or hinders." Writer's cramp is first attested 1853.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

cramp (krāmp)

  1. A sudden, involuntary, spasmodic muscular contraction causing severe pain, often occurring in the leg or shoulder as the result of strain or chill.

  2. A temporary partial paralysis of habitually or excessively used muscles.

  3. cramps Spasmodic contractions of the uterus, such as those occurring during menstruation or labor, usually causing pain in the abdomen that may radiate to the lower back and thighs.

v. cramped, cramp·ing, cramps
To affect with or experience a cramp or cramps.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
Muscle cramp is defined as a paroxysmal, involuntary, and painful contraction of skeletal muscle.
The injuries were nothing serious, merely a strain, a cramp and some tendon wear-and-tear.
Les was so jealous that he nearly bent over as if with a stomach cramp.
The thing is inevitable, for the stiff cramp often comes on after wounds.
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