Green’s Dictionary of Slang

crawl v.1

also crawl to, do a crawl

1. to behave sycophantically, to act the toady; thus crawler n.; crawling adj.

[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘New-Old Ballads’ Works (1801) V 411: To crawl in courtes is bondage harde! [...] Yet some, for pleasure of rewarde, Wi flatter.
[Aus]‘A. Pendragon’ Queen of the South 134: It was you as said the gentleman was a blackguard and a crawling new chum.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Mar. 12/1: The tar said, ‘O Lord, save us poor beggars afloat. I never asked anything from you in my life before, and if you help us this time I’ll never trouble you again. I’m not a going to be like those crawling Methodies, bothering you every day.’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘All Unyun Men’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 234: [He] Wuz known among the Unyuns / As ‘Crawlin’ Jack the Scab’.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 170: If they see ’t ye mean business they’ll crawl, but if ye monkey with ’em, they’ll t’row ye down.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 July 28/2: The grocer tendered humble apologies, told the story of the back debt, and did a general crawl.
[UK]L.C. Cornford Canker at the Heart 8: There’s a lot o’ dirty dogs [...] what creep and crawl into Corp’ration jobs. I ain’t never crawled, nor I never will.
[UK]Wodehouse Clicking of Cuthbert 87: ‘Crawled?’ he said. ‘Well, he didn’t actually lick my boots [...] but he did everything short of that.’.
[Aus]‘William Hatfield’ Sheepmates 65: Topton [...] had very nearly been given the management of a station, but a ‘crawling cow’ had spoilt his chances with the company.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 634: Ain’t you acting a bit previous, as if I was going to come crawling around?
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 26: I told him I wouldn’t have more to do with him unless he [...] stopped crawling to those aunts of his.
[UK]A. Sillitoe ‘The Disgrace of Jim Scarfedale’ Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1960) 129: She said she’d die if she ever married a bloke as worked in an office and who crawled around his boss because he wanted to get on.
[UK]J. Barlow Burden of Proof 44: Wolfe was an unyielding tough uncompromising boy. He didn’t crawl.
[UK]I. Welsh Trainspotting 75: The trick was tae indulge the radge withoot being seen tae be too much ay an obviously crawling sap.

2. (US campus) to renege on a statement.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 13: crawl v. 1. To go back on one’s bet. 2. To take back what one has said.
G. Siler Inside Facts on Pugilism 132: Twenty-fi’ if me backer don’t crawl.

In phrases