See more synonyms for crawl on
verb (used without object)
  1. to move in a prone position with the body resting on or close to the ground, as a worm or caterpillar, or on the hands and knees, as a young child.
  2. (of plants or vines) to extend tendrils; creep.
  3. to move or progress slowly or laboriously: The line of cars crawled behind the slow-moving truck. The work just crawled until we got the new machines.
  4. to behave in a remorseful, abject, or cringing manner: Don't come crawling back to me asking for favors.
  5. to be, or feel as if, overrun with crawling things: The hut crawled with lizards and insects.
  6. Ceramics. (of a glaze) to spread unevenly over the surface of a piece.
  7. (of paint) to raise or contract because of an imperfect bond with the underlying surface.
verb (used with object)
  1. to visit or frequent a series of (especially bars): to crawl the neighborhood pubs.
  2. Also spider. Digital Technology. to retrieve (data) from a website using a computer program, as in order to index web pages for a search engine: Search engines are constantly crawling the web.
  1. act of crawling; a slow, crawling motion.
  2. a slow pace or rate of progress: Traffic slowed to a crawl.
  3. Swimming. a stroke in a prone position, characterized by alternate overarm movements combined with the flutter kick.
  4. Television, Movies. titles that slowly move across a screen, providing information.

Origin of crawl

1150–1200; Middle English crawlen < Old Norse krafla; compare Danish kravle “to crawl, creep”
Related formscrawl·ing·ly, adverb
Can be confusedcraw crawl

Synonym study

1. Crawl, creep refer to methods of moving like reptiles or worms, or on all fours. They are frequently interchangeable, but crawl is used of a more prostrate movement than creep : A dog afraid of punishment crawls toward his master. Creep expresses slow progress: A child creeps before walking or running. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for crawling

dragging, jammed, overrun, teeming, plentiful

Examples from the Web for crawling

Contemporary Examples of crawling

Historical Examples of crawling

British Dictionary definitions for crawling


  1. a defect in freshly applied paint or varnish characterized by bare patches and ridging


verb (intr)
  1. to move slowly, either by dragging the body along the ground or on the hands and knees
  2. to proceed or move along very slowly or laboriouslythe traffic crawled along the road
  3. to act or behave in a servile manner; fawn; cringe
  4. to be or feel as if overrun by something unpleasant, esp crawling creaturesthe pile of refuse crawled with insects
  5. (of insects, worms, snakes, etc) to move with the body close to the ground
  6. to swim the crawl
  1. a slow creeping pace or motion
  2. Also called: Australian crawl, front crawl swimming a stroke in which the feet are kicked like paddles while the arms reach forward and pull back through the water
Derived Formscrawlingly, adverb

Word Origin for crawl

C14: probably from Old Norse krafla to creep; compare Swedish kravla, Middle Low German krabbelen to crawl, Old Norse krabbi crab 1


  1. an enclosure in shallow, coastal water for fish, lobsters, etc

Word Origin for crawl

C17: from Dutch kraal kraal
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 crawling



c.1200, creulen, from a Scandinavian source, perhaps Old Norse krafla "to claw (one's way)," from the same root as crab (n.1). If there was an Old English *craflian, it has not been recorded. Related: Crawled; crawling.



1818, from crawl (v.); in the swimming sense from 1903, the stroke developed by Frederick Cavill, well-known English swimmer who emigrated to Australia and modified the standard stroke of the day after observing South Seas islanders. So called because the swimmer's motion in the water resembles crawling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper