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catch a crab

To make a poor stroke while rowing, perhaps by missing the water entirely. The boat jerked as I caught a crab with my oar.
See also: catch, crab

crab mentality

A negative, selfish mentality characterized by a preference for others not to get ahead of or do better than oneself. It alludes to a phenomenon of a group of crabs in a pot, in which an escaping crab is pulled back down by the others so that none escape in the end. She dreamt of going to college and beginning a better life, but her parents' and friends' crab mentality constantly discouraged her from leaving the sordid life in which they were entrenched.
See also: crab, mentality

draw the crabs

"Crabs" refers to "crab shells," perhaps a pun on the shells of bullets and artillery. Primarily heard in Australia.
1. military slang To cause an enemy to fire at one; to draw fire. Stay low so they can't see you. You don't want to draw the crabs and get yourself killed!
2. informal By extension, to attract unwanted attention. The celebrity wore a floppy hat and big sunglasses at the local coffee shop in an attempt to avoid drawing the crabs. It didn’t work, though—a crowd flocked to her almost immediately.
See also: crab, draw

old crab

An eccentric or irritable older person, especially one whose views or attitudes are considered boring or old-fashioned. Ah, don't mind that old crab. He's just set in her ways. I've fully embraced that I'm going to be a grumpy old crab by the time I'm in my 60s.
See also: crab, old

you cannot make a crab walk straight

proverb There is no point trying to accomplish something that is not actually possible. (Crabs are known for walking sideways.) Why are you try to teach her this game when she clearly isn't interested? You cannot make a crab walk straight, you know. A: "Billy's trying to mix oil and water again." B: "Oh boy. Someone needs to tell him that you can't make a crab walk straight."
See also: cannot, crab, make, straight, walk
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

catch a crab

(in rowing) effect a faulty stroke in which the oar is jammed under water or misses the water altogether.
See also: catch, crab
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017


n. a louse. (Usually plural.) He’s scratching like he’s got crabs.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

catch a crab

To make a faulty stroke in rowing that causes the blade of the oar to strike the water on the recovery stroke.
See also: catch, crab
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Crab feed, wine and beer tasting, cooking classes, crabbing trips, and a crab cake contest.
(They also eat live food) Ask if your students have ever gone crabbing. What did they use for bait?
The trap may work well for recreational crabbing in shallow waters, but it is too cumbersome to fit on commercial boats.
I asked Mike what he's learned over his last three crabbing seasons.
Commercial crabber and Seminole resident Doug Johnston has been crabbing for 32 years in the St.
Now is the best time of year for crabbing in Oregon.
The best time of day to go crabbing is when the crab are able to move about freely, from an hour before slack tide to an hour after the tide changes.
Normally, bay crabbing picks up in September and October, Thissell said.
This year, however, the rains were late in arriving and crabbing was actually better in November than it was during August and September, said Roelle, a Winchester Bay cafe owner and fishing guide who monitors the local crab fishery as closely as anyone.
In addition to making crabbing a more active pastime, the Crabhawk opens new waters to shore-based crabbers.
NEWPORT - A price dispute with a major Oregon buyer of Dungeness crab has stunted the profitable crabbing season, in the latest blow to the state's struggling commercial fishing industry.
Kaiser has been working with a crabbing industry group on a proposal to limit the number of pots each boat is allowed to fish.