The verb to shred usually refers to disassembling, undoing, or disassembling something through its division into small parts. In shredding, therefore, a whole is divided into multiple portions or fragments.
For example: “To make the sauce, you have to crumble the cheese and mix it with milk, salt and pepper”, “You don’t have to crumble the cake, you can cut the pieces you want with a knife”, “The cat was in charge of shredding the cushion filling ”.
The action of shredding is common in the field of gastronomy. Many preparations require breaking down an ingredient to make it easier to mix, melt or cook. If a person wants to prepare a bread pudding, to cite one case, he will have to crumble the bread and place it in a container with milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla essence.
Crumble can also refer to making a detailed examination of something. In this context, the notion is linked to studying or analyzing: “The socialist deputy proposed to break down the external debt to determine which amounts are legitimate and which are not”, “The president of the multinational company will be in charge of breaking down the investment plan in a press conference”, “In today’s class we are going to break down different concepts related to metaphysics”.
If two journalists, in the framework of a television program dedicated to sports, begin to discuss a football match, reviewing the most important plays from the beginning to the end of the match, it can be said that they are dedicating themselves to breaking the game down into question.
Among the most common synonyms of the verb to crumble, we find the following: crush, split, chop, pulverize, crumble and divide, for which the antonyms join and join are applied. This list is useful for situations in which the term is applied to the division of material objects into parts, food being the most common of all.
On the other hand, there are synonyms that refer to the detailed study of a topic or phenomenon, as mentioned above: break down, examine, detail and analyze. In the example of the journalists who talk about a football match and review each one of the plays, we could also say that they analyze it, that they examine it or that they break it down, or that they observe its development in detail.
With regard to the etymology of the word crumble, it is a Romance formation that derives from the Latin dis- (which refers to the separation by several paths) and the vulgar verb minutiare (which can be translated as “to decrease”). This last verb denotes the transformation of something into minutia, that is, a very small and insignificant part of a thing, as well as dust particles.
In our language, the Latin word minutia gave rise to the appearance of the terms minutiae and minutiae; just as in the previous case, these two also serve to designate a thing without importance, insignificant, the minimum expression of something. Its root, the Indo-European *mei, is the same as in the word minus (less), and serves to designate “littleness”. Other words that have this same root are the following: often, minuendo, decrease, minute, diminish, diminutive, minister and minor.
When we crumble a piece of food, the movement we make with our fingers is very particular. Although each person can do it their way, and not all products can be crumbled with the same technique, the normal thing is to take it with the tips of the fingers and start “rubbing” it, alternating the direction of the thumb and the others.. An alternative is to hold it with both hands and move them as if we were soaping them.