crumple [transitive, intransitive]: crumple (something) (up) (into something) to press or crush something into folds; to become pressed, etc. into folds

She crumpled the letter up into a ball and threw it on the fire.

This material crumples very easily

deform (something): to change or damage the usual or natural shape of something; to become changed in shape

The disease had deformed his spine.

The pressure had caused the wall to deform and buckle.

Do you say this paper cup is deformed in everyday English?

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Do you say this paper cup is crumpled in everyday English?

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  • Crumpled is everyday; deformed is formal. Be careful about saying that someone with a disability 'is deformed' because this could be very offensive. Mar 30, 2020 at 7:58
  • @MichaelHarvey, so what is the everyday word for "deformed"?
    – Tom
    Mar 30, 2020 at 7:59
  • Do you mean in a medical sense? Mar 30, 2020 at 8:00
  • For what it's worth, my word choice would be "beat-up" for the first picture and "flattened" for the second. Deformed should probably be reserved for things that take a lot of force to bend out of shape. Mar 30, 2020 at 8:30
  • 1
    I would say it has been squashed. Mar 30, 2020 at 8:30

1 Answer 1


"Crumpled" implies that it was once in a correct shape, but then had force applied to it in a way that caused it to buckle or bend in multiple places. It is usually only applied to thin materials (like paper, or thin sheets of metal, etc).

"Deformed" just says that its shape is not the correct/intended shape for the item. It may have been the result of a manufacturing defect, or it may have been due to melting, etc. It was not necessarily the result of having a force applied to it (though it might be in some cases).

Also "crumpled" generally implies it has many little (sharp) bends all over it, and it's been changed into a very irregular shape. "Deformed" usually has the impression of more gentle bending or just being shaped strangely.

It is also more common to refer to paper as being "crumpled" rather than "deformed". "Deformed" tends to be used more with plastic/metal/ceramic/etc objects.

Regarding your example pictures, I think in both cases people would tend to say "crumpled", mostly just because it's paper, but also because they both have sharp creases that were caused by applying force to them. In the case of your first photograph, though, somebody might say something like "slightly crumpled" to make it clear it's not completely crumpled out of shape, just has some creases, etc, due to a crumpling-like action.

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