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A Small Pet Peeve: Crumble -vs- Crumple

Posted on October 11, 2011 by in Grammar | 3 Comments

I’m not much of a grammar curmudgeon, but I’m seeing this more often in pieces I read and it’s starting to bother me; the interchangeable use of the words crumble and crumple. Though both words denote a physical collapse and sound similar, they are not the same.

Crumble denotes brittleness and disintegration by breaking into pieces – from a whole into fragments. Cookies crumble. Dirt clods crumble. Old mortar crumbles. People don’t physically crumble, unless doused with liquid nitrogen and struck with a hammer.  (It is fair to say someone’s mental state can crumble)

Crumple denotes a collapse or folding where the object remains intact – one piece. Paper crumples. Fenders crumple (at least mine did yesterday). And people can be described as crumpling when they are rendered unconscious or collapse.

So please, no more heroines crumbling to the ground unless they’ve been dipped in liquid nitrogen and whacked with a bat.

3 Responses to "A Small Pet Peeve: Crumble -vs- Crumple"

  1. Sessha Batto
    - October 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    at least they’re closely related – I’ve been seeing a lot of wither instead of writhe and taunt instead of taut – not even CLOSE in meaning

  2. Kelly Louise
    - December 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    A critiquer once told me that smoke does not plume into the air, it plumbs. Wish I could send her a dictionary,

  3. Lee
    - July 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I am seeing a rather significant increase in grammatical errors since the advent of self-publishing directly to and through the computer. I find it distracts from the story, by breaking the flow of the reading. I’ve read some free books that were so bad I wanted a refund! People are always mixing up their/there/they’re, and your/you’re, and lose/loose, and to/too/two, and do/due, and I could go on for a long time, but you’d have to delete my comment to save space!

    I believe this is due to blind faith in the spell checker, in lieu of an editor. Spell checkers cannot determine whether the word used is the correct form, they can only determine if it is spelled correctly. Even some who use an “editor” rely on their spouse or best friend or bartender to play the role of editor, and that just doesn’t cut it! Okay, I’m done ranting and I’ll climb down from my soap box now. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

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