Etymology: Middle English, from Old Norse krafla
Date: 14th century
1. to move slowly in a prone position without or as if without the use of limbs <the snake crawled into its hole> 2. to move or progress slowly or laboriously <traffic crawls 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> 5. a. 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> II. noun Date: 1818 1. a. 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 (as performer credits or news bulletins)
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.