\ 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

belly, creep, grovel, slide, slither, snake, worm, wriggle

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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

After work, Murphy washed her bedsheets, jumped rope in the alley behind her Santa Monica apartment complex and watched TV before crawling into bed. Los Angeles Times, "‘Boy Next Door Killer’ Michael Gargiulo guilty in knife attacks on Ashton Kutcher’s date, other young women," 15 Aug. 2019 Who else could attract so many that cars crawl bumper-to-bumper all the way from downtown Lenox, delaying the concert by half an hour? Zoë Madonna,, "Yo-Yo Ma’s ‘Bach Project’ offers a seat at his table to Tanglewood fans and community groups," 12 Aug. 2019 During the scene at the dragonpit, where the remaining lords and ladies of Westeros attempt to choose a new leader, a pill bug crawls into Bran’s hand. Adam Epstein, Quartzy, "The weirdest parts of the “Game of Thrones” finale script," 1 Aug. 2019 Crowd-pleasing stunts such as daredevils kissing rattlesnakes, people handling them without protection or crawling into sleeping bags containing rattlesnakes, offered more thrills. John Maccormack, San Antonio Express-News, "As other rattlesnake roundups fade, Sweetwater is going strong," 10 Mar. 2018 Mantle and other players devised elaborate ways of spying on women, including drilling holes in dugout walls and crawling across rooftops to peep through hotel windows. Washington Post, "Jim Bouton, baseball pitcher whose ‘Ball Four’ gave irreverent peek inside the game, dies at 80," 12 July 2019 Gloomhaven proper is a colossal package, offering hundreds of hours of dungeon crawling across a persistent campaign that changes the world as players grow. Tom Mendelsohn, Ars Technica, "Review: Founders of Gloomhaven groans beneath its own weight," 22 Sep. 2018 The heroic Clipper staff crawled through the aisles on their knees, handing out and retrieving vomit bag after vomit bag. Paige Collins, The Seattle Times, "Bad Travelers: A harrowing crossing on the Victoria Clipper," 17 Sep. 2018 As the song went on, Ariana and her dancers alternated between slowly dancing and crawling across the set in perfect synchronization, and remaining motionless while draped across the table and stage. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande's VMAs 2018 Performance of "God is a Woman" Was a Religious Experience," 21 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Fifty firefighters were battling a warehouse fire Friday morning in East Oakland as clouds of black smoke soared into the sky and nearby traffic on Interstate 880 slowed to a crawl. Michael Cabanatuan,, "Large warehouse fire breaks out in East Oakland," 9 Aug. 2019 And best of all, there are no meetings to endure—no need to sit with a vaguely interested expression on your face while time seems to slow to a crawl. The Economist, "Holidays are good for workers and companies alike," 8 Aug. 2019 In recent years, for example, naturalizations of new citizens have slowed to a crawl. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Trump’s Cynical War on American Citizenship," 30 July 2019 Stretch out your legs, and your metabolism, and make room for a few pints with a Chicago brewery crawl. Josh Noel,, "Guide to Chicago’s essential craft breweries for visitors, locals, bar crawlers and enthusiasts," 22 July 2019 Something from a reader So far, Summer readers have suggested visiting a night market in the Bronx, going on a brewery crawl in Queens and canoeing in Brooklyn. Max Falkowitz, New York Times, "Camping on Staten Island, an Outdoor Adventure Without Leaving N.Y.C.," 17 July 2019 Deep in the Badlands of North Dakota, where snakes and scorpions slither and crawl, was Harrison Duran on a recent June day, digging his hands in the dirt, scraping his tools against bones — ancient, rare bones. Eduardo Medina,, "UC Merced student finds 65 million-year-old Triceratops skull," 26 July 2019 But by early this century, work in Piraeus had slowed to a crawl, as companies sought cheaper repairs in other nations or patronized more modern shipyards. By Vivienne Walt, Fortune, "Boxed In at the Docks: How a Lifeline From China Changed Greece," 22 July 2019 Elections had slowed to a crawl in the two decades prior, with the norm each summer being only one or two players joining Cooperstown’s ranks. Jon Tayler,, "Baseball Hall of Fame Inductions Are Heading for a Bleak Period," 19 July 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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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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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).


to shake or wave menacingly

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