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crawl into (one's) shell
To retreat into one's mind or otherwise isolate oneself so as to avoid undesirable thoughts, situations, or interactions with people. After getting mugged, I crawled into my shell and didn't speak to anyone for nearly a week. I'm not good around large groups of people; I usually just crawl into my shell and wait until I can be alone. Don't crawl into your shell because you don't want an argument—talk to me and let's discuss the problem!
crawl (all) over each other
Of a group or population of people, to be in fierce or eager competition with one another such that the individual's well-being, success, or survival becomes secondary to that of others. It's sad, really, how people crawl all over each other just to earn a little bit more money. Whenever a major disaster occurs, people crawl over each other to secure food and shelter for themselves.
A tour of local pubs or bars, usually with the purpose of having one or more drinks at each along the way. We're going on a literary pub crawl tonight to visit all the pubs the city's famous authors used to frequent. That's the last time I do a pub crawl; my body just can't handle that much booze anymore!
crawl across somethingand crawl along something
[for someone] to move across something on hands and knees; [for an insect or something similar] to walk across something. The wounded officer had to crawl across the open area to get to safety. The caterpillar crawled across the leaf and stopped at the end. She crawled along the catwalk, fearing to look down.
crawl back to someone
Fig. to go back to someone humbly, perhaps asking for forgiveness. I knew you would come crawling back to me! I wouldn't crawl back to him for all the tea in China.
crawl in(to something)
1. Lit. to enter a place crawling or creeping. The cat crawled into the room and meowed. The baby crawled in and tried to stand up.
2. Fig. to dress quickly in some kind of clothing. I crawled into my pants and threw on a shirt. He finally found his pants and crawled in.
3. Fig. to get into bed. At about ten o'clock, she crawled into bed. She pulled back the covers and crawled in.
to get out by crawling. The bears finally woke up and crawled out. In the cave, I injured my leg and I had to crawl out.
(from under someone or something) Go to out (from under someone or something).
crawl out (of something)
to get out of something by crawling. The injured man crawled out of the overturned car. Donna crawled out of the cave.
Crawl over something
to cross over something by crawling. We crawled over the pile of boxes. Timmy crawled over the carpet and stood up at the coffee table.
crawling with some kind of creature
[of a surface] covered with insects or animals, moving about. The basement was crawling with rats! We came home and found the kitchen floor crawling with ants.
crawling with someone
Fig. [of a surface] covered with many people or members of a class of people moving about. The place was crawling with police and FBI agents. The city was crawling with tourists making it almost impossible to go from place to place.
make someone's flesh crawland make someone's skin crawl
to cause someone's skin to feel funny or get goose pimples through fright. Just to hear the story of the killings made my flesh crawl. The horror movie made our skin crawl.
*out of the woodwork
Fig. out into the open from other places or a place of concealment. (*Typically: bring someone or something ~; come ~; creep ~.) When the cake appeared, all the office people suddenly came out of the woodwork.
crawling with something
full of something Because the Internet is crawling with sports fans, the league thinks it can build an international audience online.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of crawl with something (to be covered by insects or other small creatures)
make your skin crawl
to be very frightening or disgusting Just thinking about the weird way he talked made her skin crawl.
come out of the woodworkalso crawl out of the woodwork
to appear suddenly and unexpectedly If you try to lose weight, people will come out of the woodwork to offer advice.
Usage notes: usually said about someone who was not invited or wanted
Etymology: based on the idea of insects that suddenly come out from under boards in a house where they have been hidden
make somebody's flesh crawl/creep
if someone or something makes your flesh creep, you think they are extremely unpleasant or frightening (often in present tenses) Spiders and insects really make my flesh crawl. I hate that guy in accounts, he makes my flesh creep.
a pub crawl(British & Australian informal)
an occasion on which you go to several different pubs (= type of bar found in Britain) in order to drink alcohol I thought we might go on a pub crawl tonight.
make somebody's skin crawl
if something or someone makes your skin crawl, you think they are very unpleasant or frightening Just thinking about the way he had touched her made her skin crawl.
come/crawl out of the woodwork
to appear after being hidden or not active for a long time, especially in order to do something unpleasant After you've been in a relationship for a long while, all sorts of little secrets start to come out of the woodwork. Racists and extreme nationalists are crawling out of the woodwork to protest at the sudden increase in the number of immigrants.
make one's flesh creep
Also, make one's skin crawl. Cause one to shudder with disgust or fear, as in That picture makes my flesh creep, or Cockroaches make my skin crawl. This idiom alludes to the feeling of having something crawl over one's body or skin. The first term appeared in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1727): "Something in their countenance made my flesh creep with a horror I cannot express." The variant dates from the late 1800s.
out of the woodwork
Emerging from obscurity or a place of seclusion. It often is put as come (or crawl) out of the woodwork, as in The candidates for this job were coming out of the woodwork. The expression alludes to insects crawling out of the interior wooden fittings of a house, such as baseboards and moldings. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]
To be swarming or covered with moving things: The accident scene was crawling with police officers.
crawling with someone/something
mod. covered with someone or something; alive with someone or something. The place was crawling with police and FBI agents.
out of the woodwork
Out of obscurity or a place of seclusion: People were coming out of the woodwork to apply for the desirable job.