From Middle English crib, cribbe, from Old English crib, cryb, cribb, crybb (“couch, bed; manger, stall”), from Proto-Germanic *kribjǭ (“crib, wickerwork”), from Proto-Indo-European *grebʰ-, *gerbʰ- (“bunch, bundle, tuft, clump”), from *ger- (“to turn, twist”). Cognate with Saterland Frisian creb (“crib”), West Frisian krêbe (“crib”), Dutch krib (“crib, manger”), German Krippe (“rack, crib”), Danish krybbe (“crib”), Icelandic krubba (“crib”). Doublet of crèche. The sense of ‘stealing, taking notes, plagiarize’ seems to have developed out of the verb.
The criminal sense may derive from the 'basket' sense, circa the mid 18th century, in that a poacher could conceal poachings in such a basket (see the 1772 Samuel Foote quotation). The cheating sense probably derives from the criminal sense.
crib (countable and uncountable, plural cribs)
- (US) A baby’s bed with high, often slatted, often moveable sides, suitable for a child who has outgrown a cradle or bassinet.
- (Britain) A bed for a child older than a baby.
- (nautical) A small sleeping berth in a packet ship or other small vessel
- A wicker basket; compare Moses basket.
- A manger, a feeding trough for animals elevated off the earth or floor, especially one for fodder such as hay.
- The baby Jesus and the manger in a creche or nativity scene, consisting of statues of Mary, Joseph and various other characters such as the magi.
- A bin for drying or storing grain, as with a corn crib.
- A small room or covered structure, especially one of rough construction, used for storage or penning animals.
- A confined space, as with a cage or office-cubicle
- (obsolete) A job, a position; (British), an appointment.
- A hovel, a roughly constructed building best suited to the shelter of animals but used for human habitation.
- (slang) One’s residence, or where one normally hangs out. A house or dwelling place.
- A boxy structure traditionally built of heavy wooden timbers, to support an existing structure from below, as with a mineshaft or a building being raised off its foundation in preparation for being moved; see cribbing.
- (usually in the plural) A collection of quotes or references for use in speaking, for assembling a written document, or as an aid to a project of some sort; a crib sheet.
- (obsolete) A minor theft, extortion or embezzlement, with or without criminal intent.
- (cribbage) The card game cribbage.
- (cribbage) The cards discarded by players and used by the dealer.
- (cryptography) A known piece of information corresponding to a section of encrypted text, that is then used to work out the remaining sections.
- (southern New Zealand) A small holiday home, often near a beach and of simple construction.
- (Australia, New Zealand) A packed lunch taken to work.
- (Canada) A small raft made of timber.
- (Britain, obsolete, thieves' cant) The stomach.
- (slang) A cheat sheet or past test used by students; crib sheet.
crib (third-person singular simple present cribs, present participle cribbing, simple past and past participle cribbed)
- (transitive) To place or confine in a crib.
- To shut up or confine in a narrow habitation; to cage; to cramp.
- (transitive) To collect one or more passages and/or references for use in a speech, written document or as an aid for some task; to create a crib sheet.
- (intransitive) To install timber supports, as with cribbing.
- (transitive, obsolete) To steal or embezzle, to cheat out of.
- (India) To complain, to grumble
- To crowd together, or to be confined, as if in a crib or in narrow accommodations.
- (intransitive, of a horse) To seize the manger or other solid object with the teeth and draw in wind.
- (transitive, informal) To plagiarize; to copy; to cheat.