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, primarily aquatic arthropod of the subphylum Crustacea. Most of the 44,000 crustacean species are marine, but there are many freshwater forms. The few groups that inhabit terrestrial areas have not been particularly successful in an evolutionary sense; most require
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 with an enlarged cephalothorax covered by a broad, flat shell called the carapace. Extending from the cephalothorax are the various appendages: five pairs of legs, the first pair bearing claws (or pincers), are attached at the sides; two eyes on short, movable stalks, two short antennules, two longer antennae, and numerous mouthparts are attached at the front; at the rear the tiny abdomen is bent under the cephalothorax.

The abdomen of the female, wider and flatter than that of the male, forms an apronlike structure that continuously circulates water over the eggs that are carried on her underside. The free-swimming larva, which hatches in about two weeks, is easily recognized by the large spine that projects from its carapace. After several molts, the young crab settles to the bottom and begins to take on adult features.

Crabs are chiefly marine, but some are terrestrial for long periods. They are omnivorous; some are scavengers and others predators. Although they are capable of locomotion in all directions, crabs tend to move sideways; swimming crabs have the last pair of legs flattened to form paddles.

The blue crabblue crab,
common name for a crustacean, Callinectes sapidus, found on the S Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North America. The blue crab is a member of the family of swimming crabs known as the Portunidae and is characterized by a broad, semitriangular carapace (shell)
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 of the Atlantic coast of the United States is a swimming crab that is much used for food. It is marketed as a soft-shelled crab after it has molted and before the new shell has hardened. Females of the oyster and mussel crabs live inside the shells of bivalve mollusks. Often seen scurrying about near their burrows in muddy banks are the fiddler crabsfiddler crab,
common name for small, amphibious crabs belonging to the genus Uca. They are characterized by a rectangular carapace (shell) and a narrow abdomen, which is flexed under the body.
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, the males of which have one much enlarged claw used in defense and in courtship rituals. The sand, or ghost, crabs build burrows high up on the sand into which they seem to vanish. The sluggish, long-legged spider crabs are often disguised by the algae, barnacles, and sea anemones that attach themselves to the carapace. The giant spider crab of Japan, the largest living arthropod, has legs about 4 ft (22 cm) long and a carapace over 1 ft (30 cm) wide. The closely related kelp crabs are found in kelp beds in the Pacific. The name king crab is applied to the largest (up to 20 lb/9 kg) of the edible crabs, species native to the N Pacific and marketed frozen, canned, or fresh; the red king crab has been introduced into the Barents Sea.

True crabs are classified in the phylum ArthropodaArthropoda
[Gr.,=jointed feet], largest and most diverse animal phylum. The arthropods include crustaceans, insects, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and the extinct trilobites.
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, subphylum Crustacea, order Decapoda. Although the many species of true crabs are similar in appearance, DNA evidence suggests that that similarity is a result of convergent evolution among several groups of sometines only distantly related decapods. The horseshoe crabhorseshoe crab,
large, primitive marine arthropod of the family Limulidae, related to the spider and scorpion and sometimes called a king crab (a name also used for the largest of the edible true crabs).
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, which also is called by the name king crab, is not a crustacean, and the hermit crabhermit crab,
a crustacean distinguished from true crabs by its long, soft, spirally coiled abdomen terminating in an asymmetrically hooked tail. Most hermit crabs protect this vulnerable portion of their bodies by occupying the empty shells of periwinkles, whelks, and other
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, although a crustacean, is not a true crab.


See J. S. Weis, Walking Sideways: The Remarkable World of Crabs (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Crab is a popular name for the sign Cancer. Its association with moody Cancer is the ultimate source of the term “crabby.”

The Astrology Book, Second Edition © 2003 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a crab?

A symbol of both the sea and the sky, the crab can stand for physical nourishment from the ocean and intellectual nourishment from the interpretation of the horoscope. Claws are tenacious and clinging, which can indicate something about the relationships the dreamer is in, especially with the opposite sex.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(invertebrate zoology)
The common name for a number of crustaceans in the order Decapoda having five pairs of walking legs, with the first pair modified as chelipeds.
The common name for members of the Merostoma.
To drift sideways or to leeward, as a ship.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. A short shaft or axle, mounted on a frame, having squared ends to receive hand cranks; used to wind up a rope carrying a load.
2.See crocket.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


crabclick for a larger image
Port engine failed & aircraft tending to yaw to the port direction. The aircraft would crab if the wings are maintained level.
Crab of photograph.
crabclick for a larger image
i. To fly with wings level on a heading that will correct for drift from crosswinds.
ii. To fly with wings level but apply significant rudder to offset the effects of crosswind.
iii. In parachuting, it means facing one's chute on a diagonal to the wind or crosswind, similar to tacking in a sailboat.
iv. To fly with wings level but with significant yaw due to asymmetric power or thrust.
v. In aerial photography, the angle formed between the flight line and the edges of the photographs in the direction of flight. At the instant of exposure, if the focal plane of the camera is not square with the direction of flight, it causes crab of the photograph. In this process, there is some reduction of overlap as shown in the illustration.
vi. The rotation of an aircraft about its vertical axis, so as to cause the aircraft's longitudinal axis to deviate from the flight line.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


loves to devour oysters. [Medieval Animal Symbolism: White, 210–211]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. any chiefly marine decapod crustacean of the genus Cancer and related genera (section Brachyura), having a broad flattened carapace covering the cephalothorax, beneath which is folded the abdomen. The first pair of limbs are modified as pincers
2. any of various similar or related arthropods, such as the hermit crab and horseshoe crab
3. short for crab louse
4. Aeronautics a manoeuvre in which an aircraft flies slightly into the crosswind to compensate for drift
5. a mechanical lifting device, esp the travelling hoist of a gantry crane
6. Wrestling See Boston crab
7. catch a crab Rowing to make a stroke in which the oar either misses the water or digs too deeply, causing the rower to fall backwards
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


At first glance a crab seems to be a very negative dream symbol. It could represent a “crabby” or unpleasant personality. The claws could be symbolic of a clinging and hurtful person, or a side of your own personality. There may be too much dependence, clinging and forcefulness in your life. The crab may also symbolize your inability to effectively move forward and address your own difficulties. (Remember the crab often moves sideways or backwards.) Some folklore interpretations say that the crab is an omen of poor health. However, there is a more positive interpretation for the crab in your dream. In some areas of metaphysics, the crab is a representative of the sea and the sky. It represents physical nourishment that can be obtained from the sea and also intellectual nourishment. As with all water dwelling animals, the crab could also represent something in the unconscious and the emotions.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Regulations of a NCDMF crab pot clean-out program that began in 2003 require commercial crabbers to remove all pots from the water for a period of 2-3 weeks, and a crab potting moratorium occurs typically from late January to early February.
Crabber second baseman Paul Richards's two-run triple highlighted the winning rally.
But his plan also compels the crabbers to sell nine-tenths of their catch to processors designated by the government.
Commercial crabbers have plenty to crab about, and many of those concerns are posed on the Blue Crab Discussion and Forum, a website devoted to discussion.
In early December, two-thirds through the season, the Crabbers were in third place but only 2 games out of first.
Crabbers comprised the majority of exposed fishermen, so we reviewed their histories separately.
The exchange of gunfire between the two Koreas occurred on the ninth day of a naval confrontation caused by North Korea's daily incursions in the disputed buffer zone in the Yellow Sea, accompanying North Korean crabbers.
Scientists estimate that crabbers are capturing 50 to 92 percent of all legal-size crabs.
State agriculture experts are so excited about what O'Shea's company could mean to Oregon crabbers that they're planning a Far East promotional tour.
The stone crabbers have had their traps soaking in the water since Oct.