\ 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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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 Cockroaches were recently seen crawling on the food at Lovers Lane Sushi and Seafood Buffet in Franklin. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Diners found cockroaches crawling on the buffet at Lovers Lane Sushi and Seafood Buffet in Franklin," 12 Feb. 2020 For the last few weeks, The Courier Journal photo staff crawled out of our warm beds to join them and tell their late-night stories. Scott Utterback,, "Louisville, from dusk to dawn: What we captured while the city was seemingly asleep," 11 Feb. 2020 But in a swamp, everything crawls and ribbits and drips; there is mystery, menace even. Zachary Fine, The New York Review of Books, "Swampland Sublime: The Landscapes of Louisiana," 8 Feb. 2020 There's nothing quite like crawling into a warm, toasty bed on a chilly winter night. Natalie Schumann, Country Living, "Here's How To Wash an Electric Blanket," 28 Jan. 2020 After stopping a 13-play Mavericks drive, the Hubs crawled a little closer in the fourth quarter. Justin Fitzgerald,, "Late interception seals Manchester Valley victory over North Hagerstown, 2-0 start to season," 14 Sep. 2019 Jada crawled at four months and walked at six months., "‘Her strength was amazing’: After daughter’s death, Alabama mother continues her legacy through charity," 18 July 2019 Behind All-Star hopeful Zach LaVine, the Chicago Bulls stormed back, crawled out of a 19-point hole and stunned the Cavs, 118-116. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers falter late, cap road trip with gut-wrenching 118-116 loss to Chicago Bulls," 19 Jan. 2020 New Jersey was slow to crawl out of the 2007 recession. Joseph De Avila, WSJ, "Gov. Murphy Aims to Train More Workers for High-Tech Jobs," 15 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The ailments cost Brogdon 15 games, and the former second-round pick admitted that his body has gone through a lot the last couple weeks as the Pacers crawl toward the All-Star break. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "Malcolm Brogdon embraces role as Pacers calming presence in the clutch," 13 Feb. 2020 Last year, more than 4,100 attendees hopped around to 30 restaurants and bars that participated in the crawl. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "Party With A Purpose: Kwanzaa Crawl Returns For The 4th Year To Celebrate Our Black Economic Power," 26 Dec. 2019 All of the bars involved in the crawl will be allowing entrance exclusively to ticket holders Saturday night. Madeline Mitchell,, "OTR's 4th annual Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl is Saturday. Here's how to get tickets.," 6 Dec. 2019 And Lowertown, where the crawl first got legs, still has more stops than any other district. Kathy Berdan, Twin Cities, "2019 Fall St. Paul Art Crawl has more than 200 artists in nine districts," 10 Oct. 2019 The vouchers are redeemable at all bars on the crawl. Tirion Morris, azcentral, "Yes, a White Claw bar crawl is coming to Scottsdale. Here's everything you need to know," 10 Jan. 2020 No worries, purists, the famous opening crawl is part of the new movie. Felecia Wellington Radel, USA TODAY, "'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker': Is Baby Yoda in it? Is there an opening crawl? We have answers," 20 Dec. 2019 The six-stop crawl took partiers through a gamut of bars and local pubs where patrons sampled seasonal brews to their hearts' content. Dan Carson, Houston Chronicle, "Houstonians show out at Rice Village Christmas Pub Crawl," 15 Dec. 2019 Spicy Wontons from Szechuan Gourmet Like many of the restaurants on this crawl, Szechuan Gourmet has big menu. Alex Darus, cleveland, "Looking for the best Asian dumplings in Greater Cleveland? Check out our essential dumpling crawl," 10 Oct. 2019

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

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crawl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for crawl


How to pronounce crawl (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on crawl

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crawl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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