Intermediate+ Word of the Day: crunch

crunch (verb, noun) /krʌntʃ/ LISTEN

A man doing crunches

To crunch means ‘to chew something while making a loud crushing sound.’ It also means ‘to crush noisily.’ As a noun, it is the sound of crushing and also an exercise for the abdominal muscles.

Example sentences

  • I just can't stand eating with him; his constant crunching is so annoying!
  • The mountains were so peaceful that we heard nothing but our boots crunching the snow as we walked.
  • Brenda heard the crunch of the tree falling onto her car.
  • I wanted to do 50 crunches at the gym today but I didn't even get to 30!

Words often used with crunch

The crunch is an informal way of referring to an important situation where a decision has to be made. It is common to hear the expression “when it comes to the crunch” in sentences like “Tom is a natural leader; he is always there to guide us when it comes to the crunch” or “It’s a hard decision, but I know that when it comes to the crunch, you’ll make the right choice.” Credit crunch is an informal way of referring to the financial crisis of 2008.

In pop culture

Crunch is the sound potato chips (crisps in UK English) make when you eat them. Listen to Sam Gaillard singing his song “Potato Chips” here. You will hear crunch and its related adjective crunchy lots of times in the lyrics.

Did you know?

Crunch time is a slang expression used to refer to the period of time just before something needs to be handed in or is due. At this time, people need to work quickly to get things done, and it is usually very stressful. “The deadline is just a few hours away now, so this is crunch time!”

Additional information

Crunch is also a verb that means ‘to make calculations involving large amounts of data or numbers.’ For example: “The new system crunches numbers four times quicker than the old one.”

Other forms

crunchy (adjective): food that makes a crunching sound when you bite it. For example “I like my cereal to be crunchy, so I prefer to have it without milk.”


Crunch, originally meaning ‘to crush with your teeth,’ dates back to the early 19th century. It emerged as a variant of craunch, which had been around since the 17th century, and was probably imitative in origin. Many linguists believe that the change occurred due to the influence of the word crush. The senses ‘to act or proceed with the act of crunching’ and ‘to crush noisily’ both appeared in the mid-19th century. The noun, meaning ‘the act of crunching,’ comes from the verb, and dates back to the 1830s. The figurative sense, ‘critical moment,’ is also from the 1830s and was popularized after Winston Churchill used it in his book about Marlborough in 1938.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Word of the Day is released Monday through Friday.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like