\ 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)

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Its advisers are the people who dictate the often-painful recalibrations a troubled country must take to crawl back toward economic recovery and regain market trust. Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 27 July 2022 Its advisers are the people who dictate the often-painful recalibrations a troubled country must take to crawl back toward economic recovery and regain market trust. New York Times, 27 July 2022 The inspector said that housing violated standards: an overflowing septic tank, evidence of roaches in the refrigerators, water leaks in the living units and a hole in a wall large enough for animals to crawl through. Maria Perez, USA TODAY, 21 July 2022 Porter tries to crawl on her lap; Hazel growls at him. Jada Yuan, Washington Post, 13 July 2022 The two troopers decided that the only way to save Lilah would be for one of them to crawl inside the two-foot-wide culvert pipe. Bellamy Richardson,, 5 July 2022 Before humans land on Mars and explore its subsurface, a group of scientists want to send ReachBot -- a robot designed to crawl and climb through extraterrestrial caves. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 1 July 2022 The roof of the entrance is just high enough for a person to crawl through on their belly. Chris Heath, The Atlantic, 17 June 2022 Down below, the seats hang over much of the floor space and have to be flipped up and down so as to not force people to crawl across each other to their spots. Matthew Kitchen, Chron, 16 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Britain’s railway network ground to a crawl on Wednesday after 40,000 staff walked off the job in a dispute over jobs, pay, and working conditions., 27 July 2022 Also, immigration slowed to a crawl in the U.S. during the pandemic for health and safety issues. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 19 July 2022 But in the past few days, the blaze has slowed to a crawl and steered around the grove, hitting areas intentionally burned by park crews in recent years to form a protective cushion around the sequoias. Jim Carlton, WSJ, 13 July 2022 Surprisingly tight officiating slowed Thursday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers to a crawl at times. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, 8 July 2022 The challenge of my creemee crawl was trying to gingerly taste each cone without immediately devouring them all. Globe Staff,, 2 June 2022 The integrated stack, which sits on a mobile launcher, will begin its slow-moving crawl into launch position Thursday afternoon, with live coverage available on NASA's website beginning at 5 p.m. ET. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 17 Mar. 2022 When pieces could be tracked down, the pandemic slowed shipping to a crawl. Brendan Mcaleer, Car and Driver, 3 July 2022 Manhattan’s real estate market typically slows to a crawl during the summer months. John Walkup, Forbes, 29 June 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Crawl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for crawl


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on crawl

Nglish: Translation of crawl for Spanish Speakers

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


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