Old English crudan "to press, crush." Cognate with Middle Dutch cruden, Dutch kruijen "to press, push," Middle High German kroten "to press, oppress," Norwegian kryda "to crowd." Related: Crowded; crowding.
1560s, "large group of persons, multitude," from crowd (v.). The earlier word was press (n.). Crowd (n.) was used earlier in the now-archaic sense of "act of pressing or shoving" (c. 1300). From 1650s as "any group or company of persons contemplated in a mass." Crowd-pleaser is from 1943; crowd-control is from 1966; crowd-surf (v.) is by 1995.