\ 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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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 flipping over to crawl on the floor with our chests up, my shoulders protested. Nicole Tsong, The Seattle Times, "In this Seattle Gymnastics class, you’ll put in a lot of rough, but enjoyable, strength work before you turn into a tumbler," 29 Aug. 2018 Rhoton’s dad, Clayton, who also participated in the derby, crawled up on Cole’s car to celebrate with him. Mykal Mceldowney, Indianapolis Star, "'It's a big rush': The risks and rewards of demolition derby," 25 June 2018 Liam first appeared on the top 10 list in 2012 and has been crawling up the ranking ever since. Andrea Diaz, CNN, "Classics on the rise on list of most popular US baby names," 11 May 2018 Starlee Sykes said crawler robots, which crawl up and down offshore pipes and other metal equipment via magnetic connections, replace the need for rope-access technicians, who inspect equipment by hanging from oil platforms by ropes. Houston Chronicle, "BP unleashing robot army to improve performance, safety," 2 May 2018 Teams are being really physical, eating up his space, crawling up into him, putting their hands on him and bodying him up on drives. Bill Landis,, "Ohio State basketball: What's up with Keita Bates-Diop in Buckeyes' back-to-back losses?," 19 Feb. 2018 Of course, the gesture was not made without the troglodytes crawling up from the dark, dank holes. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "Vermont High School Flies Black Lives Matter Flag to Signal Commitment to Inclusivity," 2 Feb. 2018 However, there’s a twist: Sabrina’s plan in this downright terrifying world is to crawl deeper into the clutches of the Dark Lord’s dominion while sussing out a way to remove his power and take him down. Kelsea Stahler, Teen Vogue, "The Resurgence of Witches in Pop Culture Like Sabrina, AHS "Coven," and "Charmed" Reflects Women in the Real World," 14 Nov. 2018 Florence is expected to crawl near or along the coast of the Carolinas through Friday, potentially stalling before reaching a technical landfall. Fox News, "Hurricane Florence: Airbnb, hotels working to provide free lodging for evacuees, relief workers," 13 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Similarly, my first, pre-launch experience with Dark Souls was hampered by the lack of an online community to leave in-game hints or invade my solitary dungeon crawl. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Observations and lessons from two decades of writing about video games," 25 Nov. 2018 From there, the fleet of Fiberbots crawl upward like legless spiders and repeat the whole process again. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Watch a swarm of robots build a fiber structure," 12 Oct. 2018 The scientists The Verge spoke to were generally reluctant to connect the dots between Florence’s slow motion crawl through the Carolinas, and global warming. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Hurricanes stalling like Florence over the Carolinas may get even more common," 15 Sep. 2018 Arnold apparently enjoyed his time in the military, though he was punished for an impromptu high speed downhill tank race with a six hour crawl through an obstacle course. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger Crush a Limo With His Own Tank," 30 July 2018 Deny access: Keep trees and bushes trimmed and away from buildings so iguanas can’t access roofs or crawl under barrel tiles or eaves to hide. Doreen Christensen,, "Expert tips on how to control iguanas," 21 June 2018 Go on an avo-crawl through the stands to try tostadas, salads, sandwiches, smoothies–and yes, toasts–featuring the California icon. Brittany Martin, Los Angeles Magazine, "The Best Things to Do This Week in L.A.," 18 June 2018 Opposition from the French government—blindsided when news of the deal leaked in April—slowed completing it to a crawl. Thomas Gryta And Ted Mann, WSJ, "GE Powered the American Century—Then It Burned Out," 14 Dec. 2018 A few Dubliner musicians meet each group in a pub and, over the course of the evening (and several pints of beer), lead you on a crawl through three pubs. Rick Steves' Europe, The Seattle Times, "Specialized tours enrich travel," 14 Nov. 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

6 Jan 2019

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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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

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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