A Small Pet Peeve: Crumble -vs- Crumple
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.