noun, plural (especially collectively) craw·fish, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) craw·fish·es.

verb (used without object), craw·fished, craw·fish·ing.

Informal. to back out or retreat from a position or undertaking.

Origin of crawfish

1615–25; earlier crafish, cravish, cravis, variant outcomes of Middle French crevice crayfish Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for crawfish

Contemporary Examples of crawfish

Historical Examples of crawfish

  • Little was eaten at dinner, for they had done too much honor to the crawfish at noon.


    Emile Zola

  • They are inhabited by fish and crawfish, sightless and perfectly white.

  • Our guide had brought a net, with which he caught some fish and crawfish.

    With Axe and Rifle

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • The Riverlawns were encamped at the foot of a hill not far from Crawfish Springs.

    An Undivided Union

    Oliver Optic

  • There are eyeless fish and crawfish, and a prolific population of bats.

British Dictionary definitions for crawfish


noun plural -fish or -fishes

a variant (esp US) of crayfish (def. 2)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for crawfish

1620s, generally dismissed by British etymologists as a 19c. American English variant of crayfish, but perhaps it existed in Middle English. Also in 19c. American English as a verb, "to back out," in reference to the creature's movements.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper