People in India use crib as a word for complain as in 'Don't crib about it'. I always thought this was wrong usage, but I recently checked in OED online and found that sense 9b says

b. To complain, to grumble. colloq. Cf. crib-biter n. at crib n. Compounds 2.

1925 in E. Fraser & J. Gibbons Soldier & Sailor Words
1957 L. P. Hartley Hireling xi. 90 She calls on the neighbours, she's out half the time and doesn't answer the telephone, and when I start cribbing she just laughs.

Is this correct?

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    Have you not answered your own question? It's in OED, and their use citations are unlikely to be wrong. – Andrew Leach Jul 29 '14 at 6:24
  • @AndrewLeach It's not that long ago they noticed the definition of 'siphon' was wrong (in how a siphon works). – Frank Jul 29 '14 at 7:22
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    Yes, 'crib' used to be used in that way in Britain, back in the fifties and sixties. But it seems to have gone out of fashion. It appears from what you say that it is alive and well in India. – WS2 Jul 29 '14 at 7:34
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    @AndrewLeach Is the site simply about achieving a 'correct answer'? I feel that its value includes the debate that often ensues concerning usages, which can throw further light on both grammar and vocabulary. After all, if we reduce ourselves simply to finding the 'answer' we are taking a highly proscriptivist road; which many, more vehemently than I do, rail against. I think it can be discouraging for newcomers to be given brusque first-responses of this kind. – WS2 Jul 29 '14 at 7:38
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    @DarkKnight - I have never encountered crib used this way in the west coast of the USA. – user93353 Jul 29 '14 at 9:06

I looked up the OED's entry for crib-biter, and found the following citation:

1860 J. C. Hotten Dict. Slang (ed. 2) 124 Crib biter, an inveterate grumbler; properly said of a horse which has this habit, a sign of its bad digestion.

The relevant meaning of crib is defined thus:

A barred receptacle for fodder used in cowsheds and fold-yards; also in fields, for beasts lying out during the winter

It's a reasonable inference that cribbing, in the 'complaining' sense, is a shortened version of crib-biting, and 'to crib' is derived from that.

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  • +1 Crib was definitely used in Australia to mean grumble to oneself. In Scottish there is a word crabbit which means annoyed, moaning and the OED links that to crabbing, which links to crab meaning to criticize. All seems reasonable to me. – Frank Jul 29 '14 at 9:21

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