crabwise

adverb
crab·​wise | \ ˈkrab-ˌwīz How to pronounce crabwise (audio) \

Definition of crabwise

1 : sideways
2 : in a sidling or cautiously indirect manner

Synonyms for crabwise

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did you know?

There's no reason to be indirect when explaining the etymology of crabwise—we'll get right to the point. As you might guess, the meaning of the word is directly related to that sidling sea creature, the crab. If you have visited a beach near the sea, you have probably seen crabs scuttling along, often moving sideways. Though the behavior is surely above reproach to the crabs themselves, English speakers tend to be suspicious of what comes at them from the side, and the modern meanings of crabwise reflect this suspicion of the crab's lateral approach. The word crept into English in the early 19th century and has been sidling into our sentences ever since.

Examples of crabwise in a Sentence

she inched crabwise out of the room, hoping no one would notice

First Known Use of crabwise

1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About crabwise

Time Traveler for crabwise

Time Traveler

The first known use of crabwise was in 1828

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About crabwise

Dictionary Entries Near crabwise

crab tree

crabwise

crabwood

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for crabwise

Cite this Entry

“Crabwise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crabwise. Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!