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From Middle English crampe, from Old French crampe, cranpe ‎(cramp), from Old Frankish *krampa ‎(cramp), from Proto-Germanic *krampō ‎(cramp, clasp), from Proto-Indo-European *grem- ‎(to unite; lap, pile, heap), from Proto-Indo-European *ger- ‎(to unite, collect, forgather). Cognate with Dutch kramp ‎(cramp), German Low German Kramp ‎(cramp), German Krampe and Krampf ‎(cramp), Swedish kramp ‎(cramp), Icelandic krampa ‎(cramp). See also Proto-Germanic *kruppaz ‎(lump, round mass, body, crop), Ancient Greek ἀγείρω ‎(ageírō, I gather, collect), whence ἀγορά ‎(agorá), Latin grex.



cramp ‎(plural cramps)

  1. A painful contraction of a muscle which cannot be controlled.
    • Sir T. More
      The cramp, divers nights, gripeth him in his legs.
  2. That which confines or contracts; a restraint; a shackle; a hindrance.
    • L'Estrange
      A narrow fortune is a cramp to a great mind.
    • Cowper
      crippling his pleasures with the cramp of fear
  3. A clamp for carpentry or masonry.
  4. A piece of wood having a curve corresponding to that of the upper part of the instep, on which the upper leather of a boot is stretched to give it the requisite shape.

Derived terms[edit]


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cramp ‎(third-person singular simple present cramps, present participle cramping, simple past and past participle cramped)

  1. (intransitive) (of a muscle) To contract painfully and uncontrollably.
  2. (transitive) To prohibit movement or expression.
    You're cramping my style.
    • Layard
      The mind may be as much cramped by too much knowledge as by ignorance.
  3. (transitive) To restrain to a specific physical position, as if with a cramp.
    You're going to need to cramp the wheels on this hill.
    • Ford
      when the gout cramps my joints
  4. To fasten or hold with, or as if with, a cramp.
  5. (by extension) To bind together; to unite.
    • Burke
      The [] fabric of universal justice is well cramped and bolted together in all its parts.
  6. To form on a cramp.
    to cramp boot legs



  • cramp” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).



EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions.



  1. intricate, complex

Derived terms[edit]


Manx mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
cramp chramp gramp
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.