Definition of crippled
A "crippled" person is literally a person who cannot use his or her legs and/or arms in a normal way. It can also mean someone who is crippled. A player is crippled when he or she has had almost all of his or her chips "amputated". A player who was the chip leader with 250 big blinds, loses a huge pot and is left with 4 blinds is a crippled player. To be precise, the term crippled will not be used to describe a small stack simply, but used to describe a situation where a player had a large or very large stack and as a result of a monumental loss in a single hand, now has 1 foot out the door.
Use of the term crippled
The use of this word is marginal, both on the French and English sides. To describe a situation where a player does not have a lot of chips (without ever having had a big stack), we would say that he is shortstacked (a small stack). The term crippled also implies that our chances of winning the tournament are low. But as the phrase "a chip and a chair" reminds us, even if we are short on chips, we have a chance of winning any tournament; all we need is a chip and a chair.