\ 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 The clear mesh lining allows for parents to watch their toddler carefully while a small floor-level entrance allows for baby to crawl on in at will. Popular Science, "Playards to keep your baby or toddler happy and safe," 12 June 2020 On July 31, the economy will likely still be struggling to crawl out of a depression-size abyss,... Alan S. Blinder, WSJ, "Don’t Cut Off Unemployment Benefits Now," 8 June 2020 That lightweight gun is certainly easier to pack, crawl with, and maneuver. Will Brantley, Field & Stream, "What I Learned from 22 Straight Days of Turkey Hunting," 26 May 2020 One kicked in a locked front door and ran inside while the other crawled behind him. Elizabeth Depompei, Indianapolis Star, "Two children rescued from fatal house fire on Indianapolis' east side," 30 May 2020 HullSkater, as the consortium dub their invention, is a 200kg hull-crawling robot. The Economist, "Antifouling technology A new robot may help keep ships’ bottoms clean," 28 May 2020 Maybe the sun comes out and suddenly the park is crawling with people. Courtney Shea,, "How To Convince Your Boyfriend* To Wear A Mask," 22 May 2020 For the past several weeks, Beaver Creek has been crawling with construction workers renovating the complex, leaving construction debris, including nails and wood scattered about. Cary Spivak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "COVID-19 doesn't stop Berrada workers from replacing windows, doors in occupied apartments," 30 Apr. 2020 They were contaminated, crawling with who only knows what. Akanksha Singh, Glamour, "As A Germaphobe, I Thought I’d Be Prepared For a Global Pandemic," 27 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Jennifer Goudreau, an Illinois public defender, said court cases have slowed to a crawl. Kevin Bessler, Washington Examiner, "Illinois courts face mountain of cases backed up by pandemic," 23 June 2020 Business slowed to a crawl, there were fewer cars on the road and half as many buses. Carl Nolte,, "Rediscovering San Francisco, one side street at a time," 20 June 2020 But legislative action has slowed to a crawl since the coronavirus began to rapidly spread across the U.S. in March, as Congress shifted its focus to responding to the crisis. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Supreme Court blocks Trump effort to wind down DACA program," 18 June 2020 Experiment with deliveries, ranging from a slow, steady crawl, to a short lift-and-drop, a crisp upward sweep, or a slow descent presentation. Gerald Almy, Field & Stream, "The 7 Best Lures for Smallmouth Bass in Rivers," 18 June 2020 Voter registration drives, which sign up droves of voters in election years, have also slowed to a crawl, as the pandemic has made contact with crowds like those at art festivals a health hazard. Michael Wines,, "COVID-19 changed how we vote. It could also change who votes.," 15 June 2020 Construction workers tested positive, slowing work to a crawl in late May. Michael Casagrande |, al, "Alabama season ticket renewals remain high, fans explain why pandemic won’t stop them," 15 June 2020 Start your day with a museum crawl, with stops at the American Southwestern Railway Museum, Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum and the Petersen Automotive Museum. Metanoya Z. Webb, Essence, "Get Lost: 72 Hours in SoCal (With Your Little Ones in Tow)," 11 June 2020 Ongais slows to a crawl on the vertigo-inducing rise that follows the dogleg left up to the rock-'em-sock-'em mineshaft plummet to the right. Larry Griffin, Car and Driver, "Turbo Car vs. Turbo Bike: 1978 Porsche 930 Turbo vs. Kawasaki Z1-R TC," 10 June 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

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crawl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 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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