Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To break into small fragments or particles.
  • intransitive v. To fall into small fragments or particles; disintegrate. See Synonyms at decay.
  • intransitive v. To give way; collapse: an ego that crumbles under pressure.
  • n. A baked dessert of fruit topped with a crumbly pastry mixture: cherry crumble.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To fall apart; to disintegrate.
  • v. To render into crumbs.
  • n. A dessert of British origin containing stewed fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of fat, flour, and sugar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To fall into small pieces; to break or part into small fragments; hence, to fall to decay or ruin; to become disintegrated; to perish.
  • transitive v. To break into small pieces; to cause to fall in pieces.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To break into small fragments; divide into minute parts or morsels.
  • To fall into small pieces; break or part into small fragments; become disintegrated.
  • To fall into desuetude; decay; become frittered away; disappear piecemeal.
  • n. A small crumb; a fragment; a particle; a morsel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. fall apart
  • v. fall into decay or ruin
  • v. break or fall apart into fragments

Etymologies

Alteration (influenced by crumb) of Middle English cremelen, from Old English *crymelen, frequentative of gecrymmian, to break into crumbs, from cruma, crumb.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The crumble is my favourite part of the whole bar.

    Blueberry Crumble Bars

  • Watching Pakistan crumble from a pseudo-democracy into a despotic dictatorship rife with Islamic fundamentalist extremists who threaten the security of the Middle East and victory in Afghanistan is a huge issue.

    2007 December 26 « Unambiguously Ambidextrous

  • The butter in the crumble is cut in, not melted, making it very crumbly but surprisingly not dry.

    Archive 2006-02-01

  • Bake in 350 F oven until crumble is golden, about 40 minutes.

    Chocolate Raspberry Crumble Bars

  • Where the library brand begins to crumble is when people say that they use the library less [because] they like to locate information for themselves.

    MORE ABOUT THE LIBRARY BRAND

  • I repeat that I do not think that Hitler, when he gets the oil, will be victorious, because Germany will crumble from the inside, but I think they will try everything before they absolutely crash.

    The Present Situation in the Balkans

  • Honestly, I thought Kitty’s illness would make already overwhelmed Justin crumble, especially when his cadaver turned out to be a 47-year-old who died from pancreatic cancer, but instead, it fueled his passion even more.

    'Brothers & Sisters' recap: Life goes on | EW.com

  • But those who have seen Canada crumble from the country they once knew, into a mishmash of ethnic ghettos that encroach ever more on what remains part of mainstream Canada know what I’m talking about.

    2008 August 07 « Unambiguously Ambidextrous

  • The whole transformation had taken less than a second, barely time for his expression to crumble.

    Scott Westerfeld: Uglies Quartet

  • But then why not call it a crumble, which is actually more like a crisp?

    Handle with Care

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Comments

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  • “A British dessert in which raw fruit is topped with a crumbly pastry mixture and baked. One reference says a crumble is like a crisp, but not as rich.”

    Ochef.com, Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble, Grunt, Slump—You Get the Picture

    April 6, 2010

  • Crisps and Crumbles - Crisps are baked with the fruit mixture on the bottom with a crumb topping. The crumb topping can be made with flour, nuts, bread crumbs, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, or even breakfast cereal. Crumbles are the British version of the American Crisp.
    _whatscookingamerican.net/History

    February 6, 2008