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crumb (n): a very small piece of food, especially of bread or cake, that has fallen off a larger piece

She stood up and brushed the crumbs from her sweater.


ok, now I want to change the definition a little bit. That is:

a very small piece of glass that has fallen off a larger piece

do we say "glass crumb" as just as we often say "food crumb"? If not, what is the word to say?

also other kinds of materials? "wood crumb" or "stone crumb"?

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As others have said, the general word for a broken piece of glass is "shard".

You could also say "fragment", "chip", or "broken piece of glass". Those words could apply to almost anything solid. "A fragment of glass", "a fragment of wood", "a fragment of bone", "a fragment of copper", etc. (You wouldn't use these words for liquids.)

Small pieces of wood, like no more that a few square inches, are often called "wood chips". If you're talking about a bigger piece, like a fallen tree branch, it's generally called simply "a piece of wood". Maybe carpenters of a specific word for it, but I don't know of one. Oh, and very small pieces of wood, like fraction of an inch, are called "sawdust".

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No, we don't. Pieces of broken glass are often called shards https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/shard

We would only use crumb when speaking of a non-food substance if it was something with a soft texture similar to bread, such as rotten wood. For stone or (hard) wood it would be chips or fragments.

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  • Also glass chippings. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '20 at 13:11
  • I would generally say 'bits of broken glass' if I was to be that descriptive, but I probably wouldn't be and would stick to 'broken glass' without any further description. Such as, "Stop! don't come in here without your shoes on, there's broken glass all over the place." – KnotWright Jan 14 '20 at 19:56
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When glass, porcelaine or stone breaks, it usually shatters. What you get are shards (larger pieces) and splinters (small, often longish pieces).

If you talk about crumbles, I imagine very small pieces, typically created not by just dropping the glass, but for example by stepping on the glass or otherwise applying extra force, creating finer particles than simply dropping it would cause. Even finer would be dust, very, very fine particles.

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  • Can I say "glass chips", "metal chip", "stone chip" or "wood chip", etc, which is easier to pronounce "splinters"? – Tom Jan 14 '20 at 13:14
  • Sure. A chip would probably more roundish and flat (think poker chips), but yes. I should probably include this in the post later. – Stephie Jan 14 '20 at 13:15
  • But do people say "food crumbs" or "food chips"? whether "food chips" is legitimate? – Tom Jan 14 '20 at 13:19
  • The stuff you sweep up from the floor: crumbs. The spiced potato product: chips. – Stephie Jan 14 '20 at 13:20

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