from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A bed with high sides for a young child or baby.
  • noun A small building, usually with slatted sides, for storing corn.
  • noun A rack or trough for fodder; a manger.
  • noun A stall for cattle.
  • noun A small crude cottage or room.
  • noun Slang One's home.
  • noun A framework to support or strengthen a mine or shaft.
  • noun A wicker basket.
  • noun A petty theft.
  • noun Plagiarism.
  • noun Games A set of cards made up from discards by each player in cribbage, used by the dealer.
  • intransitive verb To confine or cramp.
  • intransitive verb To furnish with a crib.
  • intransitive verb To plagiarize (an idea or answer, for example).
  • intransitive verb To steal.
  • intransitive verb To plagiarize; cheat.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Short for cribble.
  • To shut or confine as in a crib; cage; coop.
  • To line with timbers or planking: said of a shaft or pit.
  • To pilfer; purloin; steal.
  • To translate (a passage from a classic) by means of a crib. See crib, n., 16.
  • To be confined in or to a crib.
  • To make use of cribs in translating. See crib, n., 16.
  • To make up (logs, boards, or staves) into small rafts or cribs to be united later into a large raft.
  • noun The manger or rack of a stable or house for cattle; a feeding-place for cattle; specifically, in the Roman Catholic Church, a representation of the manger in which Christ was born. See bambino.
  • noun A stall for oxen or other cattle; a pen for cattle.
  • noun A small frame with inclosed sides for a child's bed. A small chamber; a small lodging or habitation.
  • noun A situation; a place or position: as, a snug crib.
  • noun A house, shop, warehouse, or public house.
  • noun A box or bin for storing grain, salt, etc. See corn-crib.
  • noun A lockup.
  • noun A solid structure of timber or logs (see cribwork) secured under water to serve as a wharf, jetty, dike, or other support or barrier; also, a foundation so made with the superstructure raised upon it, as the crib in Lake Michigan from which water is supplied to Chicago.
  • noun A solidly built floating foundation or support.
  • noun An inner lining of a shaft, consisting of a frame of timbers and a backing of planks, used to keep the earth from caving in, prevent water from trickling through, etc. Also called cribbing.
  • noun A reel for winding yarn.
  • noun A division of a raft of staves, containing a thousand staves.
  • noun In the game of cribbage, a set of cards made up of two thrown from the hand of each player. See cribbage.
  • noun A theft, or the thing stolen; specifically, anything copied from an author without acknowledgment.
  • noun A literal translation of a classic author for the illegitimate use of students.
  • noun The bowl or trap of a pound-net.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb rare To crowd together, or to be confined, as in a crib or in narrow accommodations.
  • intransitive verb College Cant To make notes for dishonest use in recitation or examination.
  • intransitive verb To seize the manger or other solid object with the teeth and draw in wind; -- said of a horse.


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

[Middle English, manger, from Old English cribb.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English cribb ("manger, stall"), from West Proto-Germanic. Cognate with Dutch krib, German Krippe ("rack, crib"). The sense of ‘stealing, taking notes, plagiarize’ seems to have developed out of the verb.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word crib.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • How the modern senses are connected: the original meaning in Old English was "manger, specifically that in which Jesus was laid". This developed various senses of small containers, small buildings, and frameworks, including in the 1600s "child's cot". Perhaps from a sense of "basket" or "bag" came a thieves' cant verb "bag i.e. steal", which in the 1800s gave "petty theft" and in particular "translation illicitly used to help pupils" (and 1900s 'crib sheet', a similar set of notes not specifically relating to translation).

    The relationship to the crib in cribbage is unclear.

    What got me interested in this is finding that 'creche' is cognate. After the Second Germanic Consonant Shift, common Germanic *krib- gives Old High German krip-, taken into Romance, and passing from South French crépia, crepcha, giving North French crèche.

    February 25, 2009

  • See acribia.

    February 25, 2009

  • Aarggh, missing qroqqa so much!

    August 10, 2012

  • the fodder of us all?

    August 10, 2012

  • Following his brief tenure, the infamous Chief Wappenstein was convicted of bribery. At his trial, brothel operators testified to the price they had to pay to the Chief, who told them that since they had previous been paying ten dollars per bed (or "crib") as fines to the city each month, they should now just pay him ten dollars per crib directly.
    Christopher T. Bayley, iSeattle Justice: The Rise and Fall of the Police Payoff System in Seattle (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2015), ch. 1

    January 17, 2016