1. A very small piece broken from a baked item, such as a cookie, cake, or bread.
2. A small fragment, scrap, or portion: eraser crumbs; not a crumb of kindness for you.
3. The soft inner portion of bread.
4. Slang A contemptible, untrustworthy, or loathsome person.
v. crumbed, crumb·ing, crumbs
1. To break into very small pieces; crumble.
2. To cover or prepare with very small pieces of bread.
3. To brush (a table or cloth) clear of small scraps or fragments of food.
To break apart in very small pieces: a solid cake that won't crumb.
[Middle English crome, from Old English cruma.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.