\ˈkrȯl \
crawled; crawling; crawls

Definition of crawl 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to move on one's hands and knees The baby crawled toward her mother.

b : to move slowly in a prone position without or as if without the use of limbs The snake crawled into its hole. The soldiers crawled forward on their bellies.

2 : to move or progress slowly or laboriously traffic crawling along at 10 miles an hour

3 : to advance by guile or servility crawling into favor by toadying to his boss

4 : to spread by extending stems or tendrils a crawling vine

5a : to be alive or swarming with or as if with creeping things a kitchen crawling with ants

b : to have the sensation of insects creeping over one the story made her flesh crawl

6 : to fail to stay evenly spread used of paint, varnish, or glaze

transitive verb

1 : to move upon in or as if in a creeping manner all the creatures that crawl the earth

2 : to reprove harshly they got no good right to crawl me for what I wrote— Marjorie K. Rawlings



Definition of crawl (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act or action of crawling

b : slow or laborious progress

c chiefly British : a going from one pub to another

2 : a fast swimming stroke executed in a prone position with alternating overarm strokes and a flutter kick

3 : lettering that moves vertically or horizontally across a television or motion-picture screen to give information (such as performer credits or news bulletins)

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of crawl in a Sentence


Does the baby crawl yet? We got down on our knees and crawled through a small opening. The baby crawled across the floor toward her mother. The soldiers crawled forward on their bellies. The snake crawled into its hole. They're doing construction on the road, so traffic is crawling. I worked late into the night, and it was 2 a.m. before I finally crawled into bed. The bus crawled along the rough and narrow road. The days slowly crawled by. Work on the project has crawled to a standstill.


Near the construction site, traffic had slowed to a crawl. The bus was moving along at a crawl. Her strongest stroke is the crawl.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Use the kid to crawl through the window of a liquor store or a pawnshop. Fox News, "Democrats threaten to investigate Kavanaugh after midterms," 21 Sep. 2018 Once the last guest is gone, resist the urge to crawl into bed and give your kitchen at least a little love: Toss lingering napkins and disposable servingware, wrap up any leftovers, and bring wine or cocktail glasses to the sink. Vogue, "Kitchen Confidential: 4 Tricks to Make Your Post-Party Cleanup a Breeze," 16 Nov. 2018 As everyone, including myself, headed home to crawl into bed, Hadid was on her way to one last party. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Gigi Hadid Wore a Naked Jumpsuit Covered in Sequins to Close Out NYFW," 13 Sep. 2018 While the McIvers’ story ended with relief rather than tragedy, other children who have crawled into washing machines have not been so lucky. Allyson Chiu, The Seattle Times, "Her 3-year-old was locked in a washing machine filling with water. Now she’s warning parents.," 17 July 2018 Juana, exhausted, crawled into the back seat of the minivan, held her Bible to her chest, and slept. Marissa J. Lang, Washington Post, "Eight drivers, five days: A migrant’s emotional journey to find her daughter," 11 July 2018 Tuck pants into socks to further block ticks from crawling into your clothes. Jennifer Walter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ticks are appearing more frequently in backyards. Here's how to target ticks close to home.," 3 July 2018 Then go home and crawl into bed with him and stop worrying about a problem that doesn’t exist. Meredith Goldstein,, "Jealous of his college friend," 11 Apr. 2018 Even better, the mom comes crawling into the room into an attempt to discreetly close the door. 5. Kristi Kellogg, Teen Vogue, "55 Best YouTube Videos That Went Viral: Our All Time Favorites," 10 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

A few Dubliner musicians meet each group in a pub and, over the course of the evening (and several pints of beer), lead you on a crawl through three pubs. Rick Steves' Europe, The Seattle Times, "Specialized tours enrich travel," 14 Nov. 2018 Tourists on a distillery crawl around Tequila, Mexico, enjoy shots on their fourth stop. Mark Seal, WSJ, "The Tequila Gold Rush," 19 June 2018 The Mexican spirit has been having a quiet renaissance in this city and elsewhere, and Oaxacan mezcal master Ulises Torrentera was recently in L.A. on a drinking crawl., "On Majordomo and mezcal," 14 Apr. 2018 Charge this up by clearing enough lines, then tap a trigger button to turn the Tetris Zone on and temporarily slow all piece-drops to a crawl. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Tetris Effect review: The puzzle game of my dreams—literally," 9 Nov. 2018 Photo by Heidi’s Bridge There comes a dreaded moment in every person’s life when a major household appliance begins to putter-out and the crawl toward the point of no return is imminent. Kaitlin Clark, Curbed, "How long household appliances should last," 1 Nov. 2018 Media: Vocativ Details: Saint Arnold Pub Crawl Potential stops along the crawl include Flying Saucer, Conservatory, OKRA Charity Saloon, Molly’s Pub, Shay McElroy’s Irish Pub, El Big Bad and more. Houston Chronicle, "On the go: Pub crawls and Vince Young signs autographs," 3 July 2018 The crawl included four destinations: HiFi Records, Academy Records Annex, Halcyon, and Rough Trade. Joe Lynch, Billboard, "Record Store Day 2018: Here's What Went Down During the New York Crawl," 22 Apr. 2018 The Old Sacramento crawl stops off at O’Mally’s Irish Pub, River City Saloon, The Other Office, SacTown Sports Bar, Fanny Ann’s Saloon, Sports Corner Cafe, Vega’s Underground, SKY KTV and Knobs and Knockers. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Going green: Six places around Sacramento to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day | The Sacramento Bee," 15 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crawl.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of crawl


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1818, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for crawl


Middle English, from Old Norse krafla

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about crawl

Statistics for crawl

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for crawl

The first known use of crawl was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for crawl



English Language Learners Definition of crawl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move on your hands and knees

: to move with the body close to or on the ground

: to move slowly



English Language Learners Definition of crawl (Entry 2 of 2)

: a very slow speed

: a way of swimming in which the swimmer lies facing down in the water and moves first one arm over the head and then the other while kicking the legs


\ˈkrȯl \
crawled; crawling

Kids Definition of crawl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move slowly with the body close to the ground : move on hands and knees

2 : to go very slowly or carefully Traffic was crawling along.

3 : to be covered with or have the feeling of being covered with creeping things The food was crawling with flies.



Kids Definition of crawl (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or motion of going very slowly Traffic is at a crawl.

2 : a swimming stroke performed by moving first one arm over the head and then the other while kicking the legs

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on crawl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with crawl

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crawl

Spanish Central: Translation of crawl

Nglish: Translation of crawl for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of crawl for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about crawl

Comments on crawl

What made you want to look up crawl? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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