\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)

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Out on the street at the start, the occasional car crawls through the crowd of spectators, runners and cyclists. Pia Peterson, New York Times, "Road Race of the Superwomen," 5 July 2018 Scarface Pfeiffer? Fabulous Baker Boys, crawling-across-the-piano Pfeiffer? Gary Thompson,, "'Ant-Man and The Wasp': Lacks sting of original," 4 July 2018 Traffic crawled through the area Monday morning and was backed up for a mile or two. Kathleen Mcwilliams,, "Westbound 84 Closed In Manchester For Serious Crash," 2 July 2018 Collier, with the sledgehammer, crawled through ceiling tiles into a Big Lots store further down the strip mall, at 11672 E. Colonial Dr., Padilla said. Gal Tziperman Lotan,, "Burglar climbed through ceiling tiles into Big Lots store, deputies say," 28 June 2018 Rather than fluttering away in a display of beauty, the butterflies crawled around the stage aimlessly. Patrick Crowley, Billboard, "'RuPaul's Drag Race': 5 Memorable Moments From Season 10 Finale," 28 June 2018 After the incident, Cooper-Nurse crawled to a neighbor’s door for help and was rushed to a hospital. Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio police officer’s domestic violence case sent to DA," 21 June 2018 The phrase has crawled around in my heart on many dark, humid evenings over the years since. Stella Bugbee, The Cut, "July, Ride On," 2 July 2018 There were three different sized roaches on a shelf above the prep table in one facility, another had adult and baby roaches crawling in the sink and in a box with clean utensils. Mari A. Schaefer,, "Large roaches, moldy turkey close down Philly eateries | Clean Plates," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The last move—the crawl to plank jump—adds a cardio element and will work your shoulders and arms. Amy Marturana, SELF, "20-Minute Abs Workout From Celebrity Trainer Astrid Swan," 4 Mar. 2018 This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby. Gary Robbins,, "Safety tips to follow before, during and after an earthquake," 8 July 2018 This crawl takes place in Fort Worth's West 7th district with seven bars, including the Coyote Ugly Saloon, The Yard and Reservoir Bar, participating. Sandy Guerra-cline, star-telegram, "Old 97's head west for Concerts in Garden appearance," 21 June 2018 Anything from a garbage to a dead animal in a crawl place or attic can cause this to happen. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "7 Horrifying Things That Happen When a Fly Gets Into Your House," 18 June 2018 The omnivorous crustaceans graze on phytoplankton in open water, and some larger adults crawl along the sea floor. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "Thousands of Tiny Red Crustaceans Strand on California Beach," 12 June 2018 In the world of Star Wars fandom, there are fans, and then there are fans: the cosplayers, the Funko completists, the crawl-reciters. Patrick Farrell, WIRED, "Meet the Star Wars Fans Building a Full-Scale Millennium Falcon," 4 May 2018 The videos showed her drop her body to the ground and crawl to safety while officers shot Autry. Jane Wester, charlotteobserver, "New CMPD video: Cops shoot armed man while his pregnant hostage crawls to safety | Charlotte Observer," 4 Apr. 2018 Entertainment will take place throughout the event, including a Kids Karate Club demonstration, fitness instruction by Vaughan's personal trainers and a new baby crawl contest. Joy Davis, Aurora Beacon-News, "Family Fun Fair planned in Aurora," 15 Feb. 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.

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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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Statistics for crawl

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for crawl

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

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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 \
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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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