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[kruhm-buh l] /ˈkrʌm bəl/
verb (used with object), crumbled, crumbling.
to break into small fragments or crumbs.
verb (used without object), crumbled, crumbling.
to fall into small pieces; break or part into small fragments.
to decay or disintegrate gradually:
The ancient walls had crumbled.
a crumbly or crumbled substance.
crumbles, bits of crisp bacon, bread, etc., added to other foods, especially as a topping.
British Dialect. crumb; particle; fragment.
Origin of crumble
late Middle English
1375-1425; earlier crymble, crimble; late Middle English kremelen, akin to crome crumb; see -le
Related forms
crumblingness, noun
half-crumbled, adjective
uncrumbled, adjective
1. mash, shatter. 2. disintegrate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for crumble
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Well, the old altar began to crumble, and parts of it fell away from time to time.

    Carmen Ariza Charles Francis Stocking
  • She looked about her with the wish that the earth might crumble into pieces.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • All at once my bones seemed to crumble and my flesh dissolve.

  • The disintegration that will crumble our enemies has already begun.

  • You have seen how the air helps to crumble the stone and brick in old buildings.

    Agriculture for Beginners Charles William Burkett
British Dictionary definitions for crumble


to break or be broken into crumbs or fragments
(intransitive) to fall apart or away: his resolution crumbled
(Brit) a baked pudding consisting of a crumbly mixture of flour, fat, and sugar over stewed fruit: apple crumble
Word Origin
C16: variant of crimble, of Germanic origin; compare Low German krömeln, Dutch kruimelen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for crumble

late 15c., kremelen, from Old English *crymelan, presumed frequentative of gecrymman "to break into crumbs," from cruma (see crumb). The -b- is 16c., probably on analogy of French-derived words like humble, where it belongs, or by influence of crumb. Related: Crumbled; crumbling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with crumble
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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