Green’s Dictionary of Slang

crawfish n.

[crawfish v.]

1. (orig. US, also crawdad, crayfish) a coward, a groveller, one who backs down from a challenge, esp. a physical one; also as adj.

[US]Blair & Meine Half Horse, Half Alligator (1956) 110: ‘If you’re determined to satay, I must leave you [...]’ ‘You can slope, old crawfish.’.
[US]M.L. Byrn Adventures of Fudge Fumble 67: The lady was none of your chicken-hearted, crawfish lookin’ women.
[UK]Marvel XV:373 Jan. 9: Seein’ ye’re all crawfish [...] I vote we draw lots fer who starts the ball a-rollin’.
[US]Muskogee Cimeter (OK) 6 Apr. 1/3: It was a caution to see the Jaybird backstep and play the Craw-dad act.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 13 Jan. 1/1: Mayor of North Perth Milner has been compelled to do a crawfish [...] After insulting a self-sacrificing body of volunteer firemen his explanation displayed shocking taste.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Aug. 12/2: It is a great record in fixity of purpose and concentrated vituperation; but, despite it all, the drunk is still numerous in the land, and defiant crayfish wave round every second lamp-post.
[US]C. Sandburg letter 10 May in Mitgang (1968) 185: I don’t know whether he’s a crawfish or not.
[Aus]Townsville daily Bull. 1 Nov. 8/3: Shut up you lob-eared crayfish.
[UK](con. WWI) A.E. Strong in Partridge Sl. Today and Yesterday 287: Group. Where’s your Tin Plate? [...] He is a crayfish, isn’t he, Joe ?
[US]N. Algren Somebody in Boots 122: ‘How many crawdads you got in that hole, big fella?’ ‘Oh they’s plenty more’n jest me in here, Buttons – nigh on to twenty men.’.
[US]Botkin Lay My Burden Down 27: One which says I will and then won’t is a crawfish Christian.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 22 March in Proud Highway (1997) 208: Most editors are boobs, cretins and witless crayfish.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 31/2: crayfish a crawler or contemptible schemer; from army WWI.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 54: crayfish 1. A contemptible person, as in one who crawls to authority blabbing about his mates. From the army in WWI. 2. A coward, often used in phrase to crayfish out, meaning you lost your nerve or backed away from something dangerous or risky. Late C19 ANZ.

2. (orig. US) a political turncoat or rebel.

[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms (3rd edn).
[UK]Farmer Americanisms.

3. (Aus.) an apology.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 3 June 4/8: When you find you information wasn’t right / [...] / Just insert a crawfish in the ‘Daily Skite’.

4. (US) a French person.

[US] in DARE.

5. (US campus) a stingy, mean person.

[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 57: crawfish n Stingy person.