Make One’s Skin Crawl

Also: Make One’s Flesh Creep

Meaning of Idiom ‘Make One’s Skin Crawl’

Something (or someone) that makes your skin crawl causes you to shudder with disgust, fear, or both.

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Examples Of Use

“I hope that guy doesn’t try to talk to us again, he makes my skin crawl,” said Carry.

“I don’t understand why anyone would want a snake for a pet. They make my skin crawl.”

“I hope there are no spiders in here. The thought of them makes my skin crawl.”


This expression alludes to the revulsion one feels from having something, such as an insect, crawl over one’s skin. It has been used figuratively, in the form of “make one’s flesh creep,” since the 1700’s. This version appeared in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonothan Swift (1727):

“…we all entered the gate of the palace between two rows of guards, armed and dressed after a very antique manner, and something in their countenances that made my flesh creep with a horror I cannot express.”

The more common variant, “make one’s skin crawl” is newer, having appeared in the late 1800’s.

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