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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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Sir T. More and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The cramp, divers nights, gripeth him in his legs.
  2. That which confines or contracts; a restraint; a shackle; a hindrance.
    • (Can we date this quote by L'Estrange and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      A narrow fortune is a cramp to a great mind.
    • (Can we date this quote by Cowper and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      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 affect with cramps or spasms.
    • 1936, Heinrich Hauser, Once Your Enemy (translated from the German by Norman Gullick)
      The collar of the tunic scratched my neck, the steel helmet made my head ache, and the puttees cramped my leg muscles.
  3. (transitive, figuratively) To prohibit movement or expression of.
    You're cramping my style.
    • (Can we date this quote by Layard and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The mind may be as much cramped by too much knowledge as by ignorance.
  4. (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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Ford and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      when the gout cramps my joints
  5. To fasten or hold with, or as if with, a cramp iron.
  6. (by extension) To bind together; to unite.
    • (Can we date this quote by Burke and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The [] fabric of universal justice is well cramped and bolted together in all its parts.
  7. To form on a cramp.
    to cramp boot legs

Derived termsEdit



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.
  • cramp at OneLook Dictionary Search



You can help Wiktionary by providing a proper etymology.



  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.