Monday, August 3, 2009

Breadcrumb (Verb)

I recently drove one of my sons to a new camp in Ohio. We followed the directions to the main road for the camp but decided to look for a restaurant to have some lunch before going to the camp. As we drove, it seemed like we were driving in a circle and the restaurant where we ended up was off of the same express way we had just exited (though we couldn't tell if it was the same exit or not). Being unfamiliar with the area, I couldn't decide if we should assume we had driven in a circle and wing it back to the camp or if we should backtrack. I asked my teenage son what he thought and he responded, "I think we should breadcrumb it." I had never heard the word "breadcrumb" used as a verb and I wondered if he heard it on a television show. He claims that this usage just popped into his head at that moment based upon the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel.

I did a quick web search and came up with the following:

Infinitive to breadcrumb
1. (transitive) (cooking) To sprinkle breadcrumbs on to food, normally before cooking.

The nickname for a top navigation menu that uses a string of section names to identify where you are.

For example, when searching for cell phone product reviews on, you will see the following "breadcrumbs" just beneath the top level navigation:

> Home > Reviews > Cell Phones and Accessories > All Cell Phones

Likened to the practice of leaving breadcrumbs behind you when you go hiking on a new trail or wandering through the wilderness, these top navigation links help you find your way back to where you started by following them in reverse order.

While the NetLingo definition comes close to my son's definition, I still prefer his version as it has a far broader application.

Infinitive to breadcrumb
1. (transitive) To retrace one's steps, to backtrack.
Example sentence: To avoid getting lost, we breadcrumbed it.

Thank you JJP


Anonymous said...

the technnical meaning of "breadcrumb" is/was very difficult to translate into other languages; you can find a few notes here.

Carlos said...

I'm not sure I like breadcrumb as a verb just yet. :-)

tattrldy said...

I love your son's definition!

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