Cripple refers to a derogatory term historically used to describe someone with a physical disability or impairment that significantly affects their ability to move or perform daily tasks. It is now considered offensive and inappropriate in contemporary usage.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



disable, impair, incapacitate, disablement, handicap


Enable, empower, strengthen, able-bodied, capable

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun cripples, cripple
Verb cripple, cripples, crippling, crippled
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The accident left him with a permanent spinal injury, rendering him a cripple for the rest of his life.

  • The government’s neglect of healthcare infrastructure has inflicted a crippling effect on the nation’s ability to provide adequate medical services.

  • Despite his physical limitations, John refused to let his disability define him, taking every opportunity to rise above societal perceptions of a cripple.

  • The economic recession dealt a crippling blow to small businesses, causing widespread closures and job losses.


The word “cripple” has a complex and sometimes controversial history. Its origins can be traced back to the Old English word “crypel,” meaning “to crook” or “to bend.” Over time, the term developed to describe someone with a physical disability or impairment that significantly affected their mobility.

Throughout history, the word “cripple” was commonly used to label and marginalize individuals with disabilities. However, as society has progressed, the usage of this term has become increasingly outdated and offensive. It perpetuates negative stereotypes and disregards the dignity and worth of those with disabilities.

In contemporary speech, it is important to use more respectful language when referring to people with disabilities. Terms such as “person with a disability” or “person with mobility challenges” are now preferred. These alternative phrases focus on the person first rather than defining them solely by their disability.

It is worth noting that the prefix “crip-” derived from “cripple” is sometimes used in compound words, like “crippledom” or “crippled” to describe the state or condition of a person affected by physical disabilities. However, it is essential to use such words with caution to avoid perpetuating stereotypes or perpetuating stigma against individuals with disabilities.

Ultimately, the evolution of language reflects society’s progress towards inclusivity and empathy. It is vital to respect and value the experiences, identities, and abilities of all individuals, moving away from derogatory or demeaning terms like “cripple” towards more respectful and inclusive language.