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Corn crib (Carl Mydans, 1936)


From Middle English crib, cribbe, from Old English crib, cryb, cribb, crybb (couch, bed; manger, stall), from Proto-Germanic *kribjǭ (crib, wickerwork), from Proto-Indo-European *grebʰ-, *gerbʰ- (bunch, bundle, tuft, clump), from Proto-Indo-European *ger- (to turn, twist). Cognate with Saterland Frisian creb (crib), West Frisian krêbe (crib), Dutch krib (crib, manger), German Krippe (rack, crib), Danish krybbe (crib), Icelandic krubba (crib). The sense of ‘stealing, taking notes, plagiarize’ seems to have developed out of the verb.



crib (plural cribs)

  1. (US) A baby’s bed (British and Australasian cot) with high, often slatted, often moveable sides, suitable for a child who has outgrown a cradle or bassinet.
  2. (Britain) A bed for a child older than a baby.
    • 1848, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.
      a day or two afterwards I learned that Miss Temple, on returning to her own room at dawn, had found me laid in the little crib; my face against Helen Burns’s shoulder, my arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was -- dead.
  3. (nautical) A small sleeping berth in a packet ship or other small vessel
  4. A wicker basket; compare Moses basket.
  5. A manger, a feeding trough for animals elevated off the earth or floor, especially one for fodder such as hay.
  6. The baby Jesus and the manger in a creche or nativity scene, consisting of statues of Mary, Joseph and various other characters such as the magi.
  7. A bin for drying or storing grain, as with a corn crib.
    • 1835, Washington Irving, chapter 35, in A Tour on the Prairies:
      I began to think of my horse. He, however, like an old campaigner, had taken good care of himself. I found him paying assiduous attention to the crib of Indian corn, and dexterously drawing forth and munching the ears that protruded between the bars.
  8. A small room or covered structure, especially one of rough construction, used for storage or penning animals.
    • 1871, Richard Malcolm Johnston, Dukesborough Tales:
      A kitchen, a meat-house, a dairy, a crib with two stalls in the rear, one for the horse the other for the cow, were the out-buildings
    • Proverbs 14:4
      Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.
  9. A confined space, as with a cage or office-cubicle
  10. (obsolete) A job, a position; (British), an appointment.
    • 1904, Forrest Crissey, Tattlings of a Retired Politician:
      He had seen so many lean years of faithful service when the enemy held the corner on all the official cribs that, now in the days of his party’s fatness and of his own righteous reward, the habit of good, honest hustling stuck to him, and he lined up an array of pulls and indorsements that made him swell with happiness every time he went over the list.
    • 1893,— Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk”.
      but if I have lost my crib and get nothing in exchange I shall feel what a soft Johnny I have been.
  11. A hovel, a roughly constructed building best suited to the shelter of animals but used for human habitation.
  12. (slang) One’s residence, or where one normally hangs out.
  13. A boxy structure traditionally built of heavy wooden timbers, to support an existing structure from below, as with a mineshaft or a building being raised off its foundation in preparation for being moved; see cribbing.
  14. (usually in the plural) A collection of quotes or references for use in speaking, for assembling a written document, or as an aid to a project of some sort; a crib sheet.
  15. (obsolete) A minor theft, extortion or embezzlement, with or without criminal intent.
  16. (cribbage) Short for the card game cribbage.
  17. (cribbage) The cards discarded by players and used by the dealer.
    • 1814, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Chapter 2.1.
      “And that makes thirty-one; -- four in hand and eight in crib. -- You are to deal, ma’am; shall I deal for you?”
  18. (cryptography) A known piece of information corresponding to a section of encrypted text, that is then used to work out the remaining sections.
  19. (New Zealand, southern) A small holiday home, often near a beach and of simple construction.
  20. (Australia, New Zealand) A packed lunch taken to work.
  21. (Canada) A small raft made of timber.


  • (holiday home): bach (New Zealand, northern)

Derived terms[edit]



crib (third-person singular simple present cribs, present participle cribbing, simple past and past participle cribbed)

  1. (transitive) To place or confine in a crib.
  2. To shut up or confine in a narrow habitation; to cage; to cramp.
    • I. Taylor
      if only the vital energy be not cribbed or cramped
    • Shakespeare
      Now I am cabin'd, cribbed, confined.
  3. (transitive) To collect one or more passages and/or references for use in a speech, written document or as an aid for some task; to create a crib sheet.
    I cribbed the recipe from the Food Network site, but made a few changes of my own.
  4. (intransitive) To install timber supports, as with cribbing.
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To steal or embezzle, to cheat out of.
    • 1848, Charles Dickens, “14”, in Dombey and Son:
      It was very easy, Briggs said, to make a galley-slave of a boy all the half-year, and then score him up idle; and to crib two dinners a-week out of his board, and then score him up greedy; but that wasn’t going to be submitted to, he believed, was it?
  6. (India) To complain, to grumble
    • 1957, L.P.Hartley, chapter XI, in Hireling, page 90:
      She calls on the neighbours, she's out half the time and doesn't answer the telephone, and when I start cribbing she just laughs.
  7. To crowd together, or to be confined, as if in a crib or in narrow accommodations.
    • Gauden
      Who sought to make [] bishops to crib in a Presbyterian trundle bed.
  8. (intransitive, of a horse) To seize the manger or other solid object with the teeth and draw in wind.

Derived terms[edit]