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See also: Crisp



From Middle English crisp (curly), from Old English crisp (curly), from Latin crispus (curly). Doublet of crêpe.


  • IPA(key): /kɹɪsp/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪsp


crisp (comparative crisper, superlative crispest)

  1. (of something seen or heard) Sharp, clearly defined.
    This new television set has a very crisp image.
  2. Brittle; friable; in a condition to break with a short, sharp fracture.
    The crisp snow crunched underfoot.
  3. Possessing a certain degree of firmness and freshness.
    • 1820, Leigh Hunt, The Indicator
      It [laurel] has been plucked nine months, and yet looks as hale and as crisp as if it would last ninety years.
  4. (of weather, air etc.) Dry and cold.
  5. (of movement, action etc.) Quick and accurate.
    • 2010 December 29, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0 - 1 Wolverhampton”, in BBC[1]:
      Stephen Ward's crisp finish from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's pass 11 minutes into the second half proved enough to give Mick McCarthy's men a famous victory.
  6. (of talk, text, etc.) Brief and to the point.
    An expert, given a certain query, will often come up with a crisp answer: “yes” or “no”.
    • 1999, John Hampton, Lisa Emerson, Writing Guidelines for Postgraduate Science Students (page 130)
      Another way of writing the last example is 'She brought along her favourite food which is chocolate cake' but this is less concise: colons can give your writing lean, crisp style.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XV, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      It was plain that the loss of Phyllis Mills, goofy though she unquestionably was, had hit him a shrewd wallop, and I presumed that he was coming to me for sympathy and heart balm, which I would have been only too pleased to dish out. I hoped, of course, that he would make it crisp and remove himself at an early date, for when the moment came for the balloon to go up I didn't want to be hampered by an audience. When you're pushing someone into a lake, nothing embarrasses you more than having the front seats filled up with goggling spectators.
  7. (of wine) having a refreshing amount of acidity; having less acidity than green wine, but more than a flabby one.
  8. (obsolete) Lively; sparking; effervescing.
  9. (dated) Curling in stiff curls or ringlets.
    crisp hair
  10. (obsolete) Curled by the ripple of water.
  11. (computing theory) Not using fuzzy logic; based on a binary distinction between true and false.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


crisp (plural crisps)

  1. (Britain) A thin slice of fried potato eaten as a snack.
  2. A baked dessert made with fruit and crumb topping
    Synonyms: crumble, crunch
  3. (food) Anything baked or fried and eaten as a snack
    kale crisps




crisp (third-person singular simple present crisps, present participle crisping, simple past and past participle crisped)

  1. (transitive) To make crisp.
    Synonym: crispen
    to crisp bacon by frying it
    • c. 1752, Elizabeth Moxon, English Housewifry, Leeds: James Lister, “To make Hare Soop,” p. 6,[2]
      [] put it into a Dish, with a little stew’d Spinage, crisp’d Bread, and a few forc’d-meat Balls.
    • 1929, Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, New York: Modern Library, Chapter 17, p. 230,[3]
      Eliza was fretful at his absences, and brought him his dinner crisped and dried from its long heating in the oven.
  2. (intransitive) To become crisp.
    Synonym: crispen
    to put celery into ice water to crisp
    • 1849, Charlotte Brontë, Shirley, London: Smith, Elder, Volume 1, Chapter 8, p. 206,[4]
      [] the air chilled at sunset, the ground crisped, and ere dusk, a hoar frost was insidiously stealing over growing grass and unfolding bud.
    • 1895, Rudyard Kipling, “Letting in the Jungle” in The Second Jungle Book, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, p. 79,[5]
      The dew is dried that drenched our hide
      Or washed about our way;
      And where we drank, the puddled bank
      Is crisping into clay.
    • 2007, Anne Enright, The Gathering, New York: Black Cat, Chapter 24, p. 154,[6]
      Her hair feels fake, like a wig, but I think it is just crisping up under the dye and Frizz-Ease.
    • 2009, Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall, New York: HarperCollins, Part 4, Chapter 2,
      [] the flick of the wrist with which one rolls the half-set wafer on to the handle of a wooden spoon and then flips it on to the drying rack to crisp.
  3. (transitive, dated) To cause to curl or wrinkle (of the leaves or petals of plants, for example); to form into ringlets or tight curls (of hair).
    • c. 1596, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2,[7]
      [] those crisped snaky golden locks
      Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
    • 1609, Douay-Rheims Bible, 2 Chronicles 4.5,[8]
      [] the brimme therof was as it were the brimme of a chalice, or of a crisped lilie:
    • 1630, Michael Drayton, The Muses Elizium, London: John Waterson, “The Description of Elizium,” The fift Nimphall, p. 44,[9]
      The Louer with the Myrtle Sprayes
      Adornes his crisped Tresses:
    • 1800, Thomas Pennant, The View of Hindoostan, London: Henry Hughs, Volume 3, “China,” p. 172,[10]
      [] the well known rhubarb of our gardens, with roundish crisped leaves.
    • 1855, Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, Chapter 23, p. 360,[11]
      For a time I was made to forget that my skin was dark and my hair crisped.
    • 1901, Rudyard Kipling, Kim, London: Macmillan, Chapter 7, p. 176,[12]
      The mere story of their adventures [] on their road to and from school would have crisped a Western boy’s hair.
  4. (intransitive, dated) To become curled.
    • 1597, John Gerard, The herball or, Generall historie of plantes, London: John Norton, Chapter 34, p. 239,[13]
      The Sauoie Lettuce hath very large leaues spread vpon the grounde, at the first comming vp broade, cut, or gasht about the edges, crisping or curling lightly this or that way, not vnlike to the leaues of garden Endiue []
    • 1972, Richard Adams, Watership Down, New York: Scribner, 1996, Chapter 50, p. 417,[14]
      [] a few shreds of purple bloom on a brown, crisping tuft of self-heal
  5. (transitive, dated) To cause to undulate irregularly (of water); to cause to ripple.
  6. (intransitive, dated) To undulate or ripple.
    • 1630, Henry Hawkins (translator), Certaine selected epistles of S. Hierome, Saint-Omer: The English College Press, “The Epitaphe of S. Paula,” p. 96,[19]
      Hitherto we haue sayled with a fore-wind, & our sliding ship hath plowed vp the crisping waues of the Sea at ease.
    • 1832, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Lotos-Eaters,” Choric Song, V., in Poems, London: Moxon, p. 114,[20]
      To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
      And tender curving lines of creamy spray:
    • 1908, Helen Keller, “The Seeing Hand” in The World I Live In, New York: The Century Co., p. 11,[21]
      [] the quick yielding of the waves that crisp and curl and ripple about my body.
  7. (transitive, dated) To wrinkle, contort or tense (a part of one's body).
    • 1741, Alexander Pope, Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus, Dublin: George Faulkner, Chapter 10, p. 82,[22]
      [] he consider’d what an infinity of Muscles these laughing Rascals threw into a convulsive motion at the same time; whether we regard the spasms of the Diaphragm and all the muscles of respiration, the horrible rictus of the mouth, the distortion of the lower jaw, the crisping of the nose, twinkling of the eyes, or sphaerical convexity of the cheeks, with the tremulous succussion of the whole human body:
    • 1895, Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure, New York: Harper, 1896, Part 4, Chapter 3, p. 266,[23]
      Phillotson saw his wife turn and take the note, and the bend of her pretty head as she read it, her lips slightly crisped, to prevent undue expression under fire of so many young eyes.
    • 1914, Frank Norris, Vandover and the Brute, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, Chapter 15, p. 242-243,[24]
      [] a slow torsion and crisping of all his nerves, beginning at his ankles, spread to every corner of his body till he had to shut his fists and teeth against the blind impulse to leap from his bed screaming.
    • 1915, John Galsworthy, The Freelands, London: Heinemann, Chapter 27, p. 252,[25]
      Ah, here was a fellow coming! And instinctively he crisped his hands that were buried in his pockets, and ran over to himself his opening words.
    • 1952, Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, New York: Scribner,[26]
      They [the shark’s teeth] were shaped like a man’s fingers when they are crisped like claws.
  8. (intransitive, dated) To become contorted or tensed (of a part of the body).
    • 1935, Edgar Wallace and Robert G. Curtis, The Man Who Changed His Name, London: Hutchinson, Chapter 10,[27]
      [] she gave no sign of the wave of repugnance that swept over her except that her fingers suddenly crisped.
  9. (transitive, intransitive, rare) To interweave (of the branches of trees).
  10. (intransitive, dated) To make a sharp or harsh sound.
    Synonyms: creak, crunch, crackle, rustle
    • 1860, George Tolstoy (translator), “The Night of Christmas Eve: A Legend of Little Russia” in Cossack Tales by Nikolai Gogol, London: Blackwood, p. 1,[29]
      [] everything had become so still that the crisping of the snow under foot might be heard nearly half a verst round.
    • 1904, Harry Leon Wilson, The Seeker, New York: Doubleday, Page, Chapter 10, p. 239,[30]
      [] the wheels [of the carriage] made their little crisping over the fine metal of the driveway.
    • 1915, Clotilde Graves (as Richard Dehan), “A Dish of Macaroni” in Off Sandy Hook, New York: Frederick A. Stokes, p. 39,[31]
      [] her light footsteps and crisping draperies retreated along the passage,
    • 1915, Elisha Kent Kane, Adrift in the Arctic Ice Pack, New York: Outing Publishing Company, 1916, Chapter 16, p. 291,[32]
      The same peculiar crisping or crackling sound [] was heard this morning in every direction [] the ‘noise accompanying the aurora,’
    • 1948, Max Brand, “Honor Bright” in The Cosmopolitan, November 1948,[33]
      Jericho had placed in my hand a glass in which the bubbles broke with a crisping sound.
  11. (transitive, dated) To colour (something with highlights); to add small amounts of colour to (something).
    Synonym: tinge
    • 1876, Margaret Oliphant, “The Secret Chamber” in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 120, December 1876, p. 718,[34]
      It was the form of a man of middle age, the hair white, but the beard only crisped with grey,
    • 1921, D. H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia, New York: Thomas Seltzer, Chapter 2, p. 55,[35]
      [] Monte Pellegrino, a huge, inordinate mass of pinkish rock, hardly crisped with the faintest vegetation, looming up to heaven from the sea.
    • 1925, Warwick Deeping, Sorrell and Son, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1926, Chapter 7, p. 66,[36]
      The leaves of the chestnut were crisped with gold.

Derived terms[edit]