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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!
See also: crawl, shell

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.
See also: crawl, each, other

pub crawl

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!
See also: crawl, pub

crawl across something

 and 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.
See also: across, crawl

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.
See also: back, crawl

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.
See also: crawl

crawl out

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.
See also: crawl, out

crawl out

(from under someone or something) Go to out (from under someone or something).
See also: crawl, out

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.
See also: crawl, out

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.
See also: crawl

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.
See also: crawl, creature, kind, of

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.
See also: crawl

make someone's flesh crawl

 and 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.
See also: crawl, flesh, make

*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.
See also: of, out, 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)
See also: crawl

make your skin crawl

to be very frightening or disgusting Just thinking about the weird way he talked made her skin crawl.
See also: crawl, make, skin

come out of the woodwork

also 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
See also: come, of, out, woodwork

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.
See also: crawl, flesh, make

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.
See also: crawl, pub

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.
See also: crawl, make, skin

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.
See also: come, of, out, woodwork

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.
See also: creep, flesh, make

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]
See also: of, out, woodwork

crawl with

To be swarming or covered with moving things: The accident scene was crawling with police officers.
See also: crawl

crawling with someone/something

mod. covered with someone or something; alive with someone or something. The place was crawling with police and FBI agents.
See also: crawl

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.
See also: of, out, woodwork
References in classic literature ?
Soul and body walked or crawled side by side, yet apart, so slender was the thread that bound them.
Then began as grim a tragedy of existence as was ever played - a sick man that crawled, a sick wolf that limped, two creatures dragging their dying carcasses across the desolation and hunting each other's lives.
They crawled along until their way was barred by a wall.
I crawled out of the swamp and I'm not crawling back in," he added.
In the context of this work, this is the data crawled from the Web.
Brittany then crawled out of the car and partially up the bank--despite her broken legs and wrist--to get into a position where she could get a phone signal.
Creating chrysalides: After about a week, it was time for their journey to the top of the container, where they instinctively crawled, flipped upside down and changed into chrysalides.
Leo Chau and Sean Duffy, seniors at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Columbia University, respectively, crawled through severe lightning, rain, hail, and freezing temperatures only to end up in the emergency room after breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest distance continuously crawled.
Experts specify the number of levels down into a site that should be crawled (most sites being organized hierarchically) as well as the distance of other sites linked to from the expert-provided site that should be pursued (for example, options are one to two jumps from the original URL).
For Tompkins Square Crawl, 1991, the artist, dressed in a business suit and awkwardly holding a tiny flowerpot, laboriously crawled on his stomach around the East Village park.
He crawled through wire mesh gates and down a short lane towards the platform.
And, perhaps most famously and unsettlingly, he crawled through New York's Tompkins Square Park wearing a suit and clutching a flowerpot, while a white cameraman, whom he had hired, recorded each inch and minute of his excruciating progress.
A 45-YEAR-old man crawled for two hours to reach a telephone to call an ambulance after surviving a 100ft fall down a cliff.
After determining the location of the child's bedroom, and without regard for his personal safety, Sergeant Norwood entered the smoke-filled house, crawled up the stairs, and began to blindly search for the child.
A GIRL of nine who crawled into her blazing home to rescue her little brother has won one of the world's highest bravery awards.