Word Confusion: Crumby vs Crumbly vs Crummy

Posted May 11, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions

This arose from a debate with my sisters at Easter over something being crumby or crummy, and I figured we needed a Word Confusion.

It’s not like crumby is an oft-used word. ‘Prit near never is more like it. However, a crummy table would be more likely to be missing a leg, wobble, have words carved into it…you get the picture.

Now a crumby table is only temporarily, um, crummy, until its top is cleared of all those crumbs.

As for poor, neglected crumbly, it just popped up while I was looking up definitions, and I reckon it could make that table crummy, especially if woodworm had gotten to it and was making the wood go all crumbly.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Crumby Crumbly Crummy
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: crumby and crummy and crumbly

A white plate with chocolate chip cookie crumbs on it and a transparent background

“Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumbs on Plate” is Knoell8504’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Yep, that’s a crumby plate, all right.

A cliff of crumbly shale

“Raven’s Beak with Crumbly Cliff” by David Hawgood is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Winter in a neighborhood viewing three bad houses framed by a broken fence.

“Bad Neighborhood Or Good Neighborhood … The Mortgage Inspection Still Pays Only $3” is from a post by Richard Law

Bet you could pick up some cheap housing in this crummy neighborhood.

Part of Grammar:

Variant spelling of crummy.

Adjective; Noun
Plural for noun: crumblies
Adjective; Noun

Variant of crumby.

Like or covered in crumbs

  • Full of or littered with crumbs

Soft, like the inside of bread

Full of crumbs

Consisting of or easily breaking into small fragments

Apt to crumble

Easily crumbled

[British slang] An older person


Dirty, unpleasant, or of poor quality 1

  • Unwell
  • Ill

Infested with body lice 2

  • Lousy


  • Disgusting
  • Lousy

Of inferior quality

  • Shoddy
  • Cheap

[North American] An old or converted truck used to transport loggers to and from work

  • Another term for caboose
“Clear off that crumby table, Melissa,” Hetty shouted.

Why is your shirt all crumby? Have you been eating cookies!

“I took a spoon for the crumbs from my box at noon, Grace loved cake, even the crumby kind.” – Lillian Garis, The Girl Scouts at Camp Comalong

“Liquids poured upon the surface cannot, owing to the crumby nature of the humus, exert any appreciable hydraulic pressure.” – George Vivian Poore, The Dwelling House

This cheese is so crumbly and moist.

This looks like a friable crumbly soil.

“Let’s go to the park and knock over some crumblies!”

It was a crummy little room.

I’m feeling crummy and want to get better.

I hate this crummy cold!

I’d be dead of the dirty monotony around this crummy neighborhood.

This crumby razor doesn’t work.

Where’d you get that crummy camera?

“Get the boys up in the crummy. We gotta get to work,” the jack boss called out.

Someone’s gotta clean out that crummy before the train leaves the station.

Adjective: crumblier, crumbliest, uncrumbly
Noun: crumbliness
Adjective: crummier, crummiest
Adverb: crummily
Noun: crumminess
History of the Word:
First recorded in 1725-35: crumb + -y First known use: 1523 Pre-mid-19th century for a literal sense of crumbly and like or covered with crumbs.

Mid-19th century as a variant of crumby.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“A Beggar Woman Against the Background of the Fresco Paintings at Saint Sophia’s Cathedral” in Kiev, Ukraine, Eastern Europe was photographed by Mstyslav Chernov under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons; the breadcrumbs are courtesy of Smart Cooky.