crab

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English[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
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A crab

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English crabbe, from Old English crabba (crab; crayfish; cancer), from Proto-West Germanic *krabbō, from Proto-Germanic *krabbô, from *krabbōną (to creep, crawl), from Proto-Indo-European *grobʰ- (scratch, claw at), a variant of *gerbʰ-. More at carve.

Noun[edit]

crab (countable and uncountable, plural crabs)

  1. A crustacean of the infraorder Brachyura, having five pairs of legs, the foremost of which are in the form of claws, and a carapace.
  2. (uncountable) The meat of this crustacean, served as food; crabmeat.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      But Richmond [] appeared to lose himself in his own reflections. Some pickled crab, which he had not touched, had been removed with a damson pie; and his sister saw [] that he had eaten no more than a spoonful of that either.
  3. A bad-tempered person.
  4. (in plural crabs, informal) An infestation of pubic lice (Pthirus pubis).
    Although crabs themselves are an easily treated inconvenience, the patient and his partner(s) clearly run major STD risks.
  5. (uncountable, aviation) The angle by which an aircraft's nose is pointed upwind of its groundtrack to compensate for crosswinds during an approach to landing; its crab angle.
    The pilot had to hold fifteen degrees of crab during the approach to keep her plane from getting blown off the localizer course.
  6. (uncountable, aviation) The state of an aircraft's nose being pointed upwind of its groundtrack to compensate for crosswinds during an approach to landing.
  7. (slang) A playing card with the rank of three.
  8. (rowing) A position in rowing where the oar is pushed under the rigger by the force of the water.
  9. A defect in an outwardly normal object that may render it inconvenient and troublesome to use.
    • 1915, W.S. Maugham, Of Human Bondage, chapter 116
      -- "I suppose you wouldn't like to do a locum for a month on the South coast? Three guineas a week with board and lodging." -- "I wouldn't mind," said Philip. -- "It's at Farnley, in Dorsetshire. Doctor South. You'd have to go down at once; his assistant has developed mumps. I believe it's a very pleasant place." There was something in the secretary's manner that puzzled Philip. It was a little doubtful. -- "What's the crab in it?" he asked.
    • 1940, Horace Annesley Vachell, Little Tyrannies
      Arrested by the low price of another “desirable residence”, I asked “What's the crab?” The agent assured me that there was no crab. I fell in love with this house at sight. Happily, I discovered that it was reputed to be haunted.
  10. (dated) An unsold book that is returned to the publisher.
    • 1844, Albert Henry Payne, Payne's universum, or pictorial world (page 99)
      [] the unsold copies may be returned to the original publisher , at a period fixed upon between Christmas and Easter; these returned copies are technically called krebse or crabs, probably, from their walking backwards. [] A says to B, "I have had eight thousand dollars' worth of your publications, three thousand were crabs, that makes five thousand."
    • 1892, The Publishers Weekly (volume 41, page 709)
      [] unsold copies and settling the yearly accounts; while for the publisher begins the much dreaded season of "crabs," as []
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

crab (third-person singular simple present crabs, present participle crabbing, simple past and past participle crabbed)

  1. (intransitive) To fish for crabs.
  2. (transitive, US, slang) To ruin.
    • 1916, Ring W. Lardner, “Three Kings and a Pair”, in The Saturday Evening Post[1]:
      I thought at the time that that little speech meant a savin' of eight dollars, [] But the Missus crabbed it a few minutes after her and Bess come in the room.
    • 1940, Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely, Penguin 2010, p. 224:
      ‘Just so we understand each other,’ he said after a pause. ‘If you crab this case, you'll be in a jam.’
  3. (intransitive) To complain.
  4. (transitive) To complain about.
    • 2007, Douglas Newton, Dr. Odin, page 24:
      Well, because of this state of things they crabbed his scheme from the first, ridiculed it, wrote against it, spread broadcast a feeling of distrust.
  5. (intransitive) To drift or move sideways or to leeward (by analogy with the movement of a crab).
    • 2000, Dana Stabenow, Midnight Come Again, →ISBN, page 251:
      Mutt stalked forward, matching him, step for step, crabbing sideways the way wolves do when they're going for the kill.
    • 2007, Pat DePaolo, The Beijing Games, →ISBN, page 454:
      The aircraft crabbed sideways in the cross-winds and leveled to horizontal.
    • 2015, Andrew Swanston, Waterloo: The Bravest Man, →ISBN:
      Another shouted order and again the squares crabbed sideways.
  6. To move in a manner that involves keeping low and clinging to surfaces.
    • 2011, Robert Vivian, The Least Cricket of Evening, page 108:
      Time slowed down then, became liquid in the aftermath of his grotesque, unfolding limbs; he crabbed his way down the faded line, rocking back and forth in braces he would use all his life.
    • 2019, Ronan Frost, White Peak:
      Foot by foot, he crabbed his way down another ninety feet of rock chimney until he stood on solid ground again, still very much alive.
  7. (transitive, aviation) To navigate (an aircraft, e.g. a glider) sideways against an air current in order to maintain a straight-line course.
  8. (transitive, film, television) To move (a camera) sideways.
    • 1997, Paul Kriwaczek, Documentary for the Small Screen (page 109)
      If panning is not easy to make seem natural, crabbing the camera is even less like any action we perform with our eyes in the real world. There are a few circumstances in which we walk sideways: []
  9. (obsolete, World War I), to fly slightly off the straight-line course towards an enemy aircraft, as the machine guns on early aircraft did not allow firing through the propeller disk.
  10. (rare) To back out of something.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XV, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      “Nothing can possibly go wrong.” “Just as you say, sir. But I still have that feeling.” The blood of the Woosters is hot, and I was about to tell him in set terms what I thought of his bally feeling, when I suddenly spotted what it was that was making him crab the act.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English crabbe (wild apple), of Germanic origin, plausibly from North Germanic, cognate with Swedish dialect scrabba.

Noun[edit]

crab (plural crabs)

  1. The crab apple or wild apple.
  2. The tree bearing crab apples, which has a dogbane-like bitter bark with medical use.
  3. A cudgel made of the wood of the crab tree; a crabstick.
    • 1741, David Garrick, The Lying Valet
      She swore to such things , that I could do nothing but swear and call names : upon which out bolts her husband upon me , with a fine taper crab in his hand and fell upon me with such violence , that , being half delirious , I made a full confession
  4. A movable winch or windlass with powerful gearing, used with derricks, etc.
  5. A form of windlass, or geared capstan, for hauling ships into dock, etc.
  6. A machine used in ropewalks to stretch the yarn.
  7. A claw for anchoring a portable machine.
Synonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Verb[edit]

crab (third-person singular simple present crabs, present participle crabbing, simple past and past participle crabbed)

  1. (obsolete) To irritate, make surly or sour
  2. To be ill-tempered; to complain or find fault.
  3. (British dialect) To cudgel or beat, as with a crabstick
    • 1639, John Fletcher, Monsieur Thomas:
      Get you to bed, drab, courage Or l'll so crab your shoulders!
    • 1935, Jack Molyneux, ‎John Fairfax-Blakeborough, Thirty Years a Hunt Servant: Being the Memories of Jack Molyneux, page 161:
      I was on a horse named The Skipper, a perfect terror to ride when he was in a bad humour, which he invariably was; nevertheless he was a splendid hunter and I never crabbed him.
    • 2021, H. De Vere Stacpoole, Vanderdecken:
      The Shiremans had a down on him over stores he'd condemned as not fit for dogs, let alone able seamen, and they'd got wind he was a socialist, and they crabbed him all over the shipping companies' offices.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Possibly a corruption of the genus name Carapa

Noun[edit]

crab (plural crabs)

  1. The tree species Carapa guianensis, native to South America.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

From carabiner.

Noun[edit]

crab (plural crabs)

  1. (informal) Short for carabiner.

References[edit]

  • Weisenberg, Michael (2000) The Official Dictionary of Poker. MGI/Mike Caro University. →ISBN
  • Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of the English Language. International Edition. combined with Britannica World Language Dictionary. Chicago-London etc., Encyclopaedia Britannica, inc., 1965.

Anagrams[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Inherited from Old English crabba.

Noun[edit]

crab

  1. Alternative form of crabbe (crab)

Etymology 2[edit]

Of Germanic origin, plausibly from North Germanic.

Noun[edit]

crab

  1. Alternative form of crabbe (crabapple)

Romanian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from French crabe.

Noun[edit]

crab m (plural crabi)

  1. crab

Declension[edit]

See also[edit]