\ ˈkrȯl How to pronounce crawl (audio) \
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)

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Synonyms for crawl

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of crawl in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun Near the construction site, traffic had slowed to a crawl. The bus was moving along at a crawl. Her strongest stroke is the crawl.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Urbexers scavenger-hunt for sites and then crawl through closed tunnels, scour old buildings, flashlight around finished mines, and trek through old military bases. Sarah Scoles, Popular Science, "A CIA spyplane crashed outside Area 51 a half-century ago. This explorer found it.," 5 Jan. 2021 After being jarred from sleep, the unfortunate Bud or Kid would crawl out of bed, find coffee and start moving heaven and earth to deliver the news for Steely. Bill Rankin, ajc, "Remembering Herb Steely, the soul of The Atlanta Journal," 31 Dec. 2020 Drop the foolish attempts to get millions of people trying to crawl through the eye of the website needle. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: George Floyd Square, Bob Kroll, COVID vaccinations," 24 Jan. 2021 Not only are cell walls sometimes more porous than was thought, but plants seem to have developed a mechanism that enables whole organelles to crawl through the cell wall into adjacent cells. Quanta Magazine, "Plant Cells of Different Species Can Swap Organelles," 20 Jan. 2021 Some prisoners were forced to crawl naked over broken glass and were denied medical treatment afterward, according to the Times. Kandist Mallett, The New Republic, "The Response to the Capitol Riot Is Whitewashing the History of Black Insurrection," 18 Jan. 2021 The devoutly tree-hugging mayor couldn’t help but think of himself, that little boy from tiny O’Donnell, lying in the baked West Texas earth of the family cotton field a lifetime ago watching ants crawl up his jeans. Bruce Selcraig,, "As his namesake park’s land bridge becomes reality, former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger looks back," 2 Jan. 2021 Made from stretchy materials, baby leggings allow for unrestricted movement as your baby learns to crawl and walk. Ana Sanchez,, "The best baby legging for boys," 19 Dec. 2020 In the picture, the toddler could be seen crying and trying to crawl away from his mother who was holding him in the photo. Nicholas Rice,, "John Legend and Chrissy Teigen Post Sweet Christmas-Themed Videos with Daughter Luna Simone, 4," 24 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In a criminal complaint filed January 13, prosecutors said Pezzola was filmed using that shield to smash a window and crawl into the U.S. Capitol. Cassidy Mcdonald, CBS News, "Two Proud Boys members indicted for conspiracy in Capitol riot," 31 Jan. 2021 When there were no spare keys or digital locks, Mr. Shuai had no choice but to get creative and, well, catlike, climb over walls, scale fire escapes, shimmy up rusty pipes and crawl through windows. New York Times, "A Flying Elephant, a Teacher’s Hugs: 12 Tales of Pandemic Resilience," 24 Dec. 2020 City dwellers may be familiar with flies and cockroaches, but a closer look shows there is a mind-blowing array of tiny critters that creep and crawl through the landscape. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, "Bizarre Bugs Found in Big City Show Nature’s Weirdness Is Everywhere," 28 Oct. 2020 Union Pacific’s fourth-quarter profit chugged ahead as shipping volume improved for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic slowed the economy to a crawl last year., "Opponents continue push against Maine power project," 21 Jan. 2021 Regardless, the division crawl, uh, race figures to come down to these two contests. Barry Wilner, Star Tribune, "On Football: Big games ahead on the NFL schedule -- maybe," 4 Dec. 2020 In an extension of the cask-ale area at Winter Warmer Fest, the crawl will offer patrons rare, creative and fun beers from brewers. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Winter Warmer Fest canceled; organizers to hold special crawl," 26 Nov. 2020 Geared to Turn Massive Tires—The Humvee doesn’t just rely on the low range in its transfer case and normal axle gear to help the giant truck crawl over obstacles and turn the large tires. Ben Stewart, Popular Mechanics, "The Hummer's 40-Year Journey From Military Hero to Electrified Future Truck," 25 Oct. 2020 More than 40% of Niger’s population lives in extreme poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed growth to a crawl, compounding the effects of climate change and low prices for uranium, its top export. The Christian Science Monitor, "High-stakes elections test Niger and Central African Republic," 27 Dec. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for crawl

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for crawl

Last Updated

15 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Crawl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce crawl (audio) \
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

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