Old English cribbe "manger of a cattle stable, fodder bin in cowsheds and fields," from a West Germanic word (source also of Old Saxon kribbia "manger;" Old Frisian and Middle Dutch kribbe; Old High German krippa, German Krippe "crib, manger") probably related to German Krebe "basket."
Meaning "enclosed child's bed with barred sides" is 1640s; probably from frequent use in reference to the manger where infant Jesus was laid. Thieves' slang for "house, public house, shop" dates to at least 1812, but late 20c. slang use for "dwelling house" probably is independent. The Old High German version of the word passed to French and became creche.
c. 1600, "to shut or confine in a crib," from crib (n.). Meaning "to steal" (1748) originally was thieves' slang, probably from the noun in a secondary sense of "a basket."
This also is the probable source of student slang meaning "plagiarize; translate by means of a 'crib' " (1778). Crib (n.) in the sense of "literal translation of a classical author for illegitimate use by students" (often a Greek work rendered word-for-word into Latin) is from 1827. The meaning "something taken without permission, a plagiarism" is from 1834. Related: Cribbed; cribbing.
updated on May 10, 2018