Question The options of question 21 are:

  1. crisp
  2. coarse
  3. crinkled
  4. crumpled.

I know the answer is (3) or (4) and the suggested answer is (4). I read wrinkle, crinkle, crumple, rumple and Asking for little explanation but failed to get a clue. If as said "wrinkle and crinkle have to do with stronger creases, while rumple and crumple have to do with gentler ones", how come the answer is (4) but not (3)? Could anybody help? Thank you very much.

Thank you for all the replies. The question is taken from direct link to the pdf file. You can find more exam papers on that website. They are exam papers from well-known primary schools in Singapore. Some of the questions are difficult. I have come across vocabulary words that I see in GRE vocabulary books. As a non-native speaker of English, I am doubtful whether a primary school student can tell the nuance between wrinkle, crinkle and crumple.

  • 1
    What makes you think the suggested answer is correct? Is this a standardized test from a native English source, or just from a book of exercises, possibly written by a non-native speaker? The reason I ask is that a lot of questions posted here are from untrustworthy sources, and the simple explanation is that they don't know what they're talking about :) – Andrew Jan 10 '17 at 22:30
  • @Andrew Please see my original post. – Wesley To Jan 11 '17 at 10:49
  • I get that they try to make these questions "difficult" to test if you know the nuance between two marginally different words, and this isn't unusual for these kind of "placement" exams in certain countries where rote memorization is more valued than actual facility. But you have to ask, if a native speaker would have trouble with the question, then how valuable is it for someone learning to actually use English? – Andrew Jan 11 '17 at 17:24

Either 3 or 4 is close in meaning to "wrinkled". It is wrong to say that 3 is an incorrect response, as native speakers would use "crinkled" in this context. (I concur with Andrew's comment)

You could note that wrinkled suggests that lines were formed by age, whereas crumpled suggests they were formed accidentally, and crinkled suggests purposeful texturing: Compare "wrinkled skin", "crinkle cut chips", "crumpled paper bag". Given this, I would have chosen crumpled as the word best fitting the context.

  • For the record, I also like "crumpled" better ... but the difference in meaning between "crinkled" and "crumpled" is so slight that, in this context, the only way to know the "correct" answer is to read the mind of the test-maker. – Andrew Jan 10 '17 at 22:57
  • @Andrew That's the matter of a pinion (joke). – Lambie Jan 11 '17 at 0:35
  • @lambie more like o-punion 'miright? – Andrew Jan 11 '17 at 1:37
  • @Andrew Indeed. – Lambie Jan 11 '17 at 16:20

Ok, the shoe-bax valentine is crumpled. Why? Because typically anything made of paper or material (fabric, like for clothes) can be crumpled. Usually, things that can crumple, can also be shaped into a "ball" or other form. "His clothes lay crumpled in the corner."

If you get angry at your printer, you grab the paper and crumple it up into a ball and throw it on the floor angrily. The actual printer can crumple the paper. If you travel and packed your bag fast, you clothes might be crumpled when you open the suitcase.

Any sheet of paper or length of cloth (both substances that have flat soft surfaces) are said to crumple. Flowers [the petals] can also crumple or be crumpled when they dry. Each individual petal is somewhat soft and can dry up and become crumpled. Crumple implies a deliberate action by a human or a machine.

Crinkle has a similar semantic trait except that with crinkle there is the idea of sound. Tissue paper (that very fine paper that comes around a gift in a box) has a crinkly sound when you crumple it up. It can be crumpled up but also has the distinctive sound is crinkling. The same is true for silver-type or other satiny papers. Like the material used for keeping joggers warm after a race. When crumpled (creases are put into them), those warmers crinkle (make a particular type of sound which I simply do not know how to express better than this). Certain plastics also crinkle when you handle them. In short, for me, crinkle involves sound, crumple does not. Crinkling is like tinkling except it's for a material, not glass.

Crinkle cut chips for me comes from the world of fabrics. Crinkled fabrics are actually fabrics that have been crumpled but it's more marketing lingo to say crinkled because who wants to buy "wrinkled" fabrics? It also carries the hint of the sound while actually not making a sound. It sounds nice, like tinkley. (glass or metal tinkles when caused to make a sound a certain way).

Wrinkles are what every woman wants to avoid: both as lines on the face and in her clothes. Wrinkled clothing is not a great thing unless of course you are wearing them deliberately or because you do not care.

Normally, an old thing made of paper (a valentine) with creases in it would not be described as having wrinkles. Crumpled yes.


As a native speaker I would choose "crumpled," because my gut instinct (before I looked up the terms in a more authoritative reference than my gut) is that "crinkled" requires both crispness and a finer level of deformation than "crumpled," which seems more gross in its deformation.

Since my gut is just my gut, Merriam-Webster's relevant definitions are as follows:

crinkle: to form many short bends or ripples

crumple: to press, bend, or crush out of shape

Based on the description of the box as being moldy and having sticky, gooey things in it, forming "many short bends or ripples" seems less likely than the box being press, bent, or crushed out of shape. So if the question is "choose the best answer," "crumpled" seems better than "crinkled," but I would not say either would be incorrect.

  • What dictionaries do not give are the semantic traits. Here, it's the noise a paper or material makes. – Lambie Jan 11 '17 at 21:29

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