Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Catch a Crab (To).

 Catch.Catch a Tartar. 
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E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Catch a Crab (To).
 
In rowing, is to be struck with the handle of one’s oar; to fall backwards. This occurs when the rower leaves his oar too long in the water before repeating the stroke. In Italian granchio is a crab, and pigliar il granchio is to “catch a crab,” or a Tartar.   1
 


 Catch.Catch a Tartar. 

 
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