“Crip” is the shortened, informal form of the word “cripple.” One finds it in slang usage by the early twentieth century, often in the underworld language associated with begging—such as “he was a phony crip.” The word also occurs as a nickname based on a defining physical characteristic, such as the novelist Owen Wister’s 1893 reference to a lame character shot in the leg as Crip Jones (“Crip” 1994, 522). During the 1920s, “crip” became a slang synonym for “easy,” both in sports and in collegiate registers: a “baseball crip” was an easy pitch, while a “crip course” was an easy course in school. These usages reflect the low social expectations held for people with disabilities, as in the phrase “to give someone the cripple’s inch.”

With the emergence of the disability civil rights movement in the 1970s, “crip” gained wide usage as an informal, affectionately ironic, and provocative identification …

This essay may be found on page 46 of the printed volume.

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