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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 (countable and uncountable, 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 termsEdit


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.


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 (comparative more cramp, superlative most cramp)

  1. (archaic) cramped; narrow
    • 1871, David Masson, The Life of John Milton
      [] the result was those folio volumes of MSS. now in the British Museum, in which inquirers into the history of that period find so much interesting material in such a confused state and in such a dreadfully cramp handwriting.


  • cramp” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.



  This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.



  1. intricate, complex

Derived termsEdit


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.