From Middle English creke, kreke, creake, of unclear origin. It existed alongside a second variant in Middle English cryke, krike, cricke, from Old Norse kriki.. The first form possibly continues Old English *creca (attested in the diminutive crecca (“creek, bay, wharf”) also found in Anglo-Latin as creca, crecca), from Proto-West Germanic *krekō, from Proto-Germanic *krekô, *krekuz (“corner, hook, angle, bend, bight”), from Proto-Indo-European *ger- (“to turn, to wind”).
See also Old Dutch creka, crika (“inlet, cove, creek”), Old Norse kriki, krikr (“angle, corner, nook, bight”), Old Norse kraki (“pole with a hook, anchor”), and possibly Old Norse krókr (“hook, bend, bight”). Modern cognates include West Frisian kreek (“creek”), Dutch kreek (“creek, cove, inlet, bight”), and French crique (“cove”) (borrowed from Germanic).
Early British colonists of Australia and the Americas used the term in the usual British way, to name inlets; as settlements followed the inlets upstream and inland, the names were retained and creek was reinterpreted as a general term for a small waterway..
- (Received Pronunciation) enPR: krēk IPA(key): /kɹiːk/
- (US) IPA(key): /kɹik/, (Appalachia) /kɹɪk/
Audio (US) (file) Audio (US) (file) Audio (AU) (file) Audio (AUS) (file)
- Rhymes: -iːk, -ɪk
- Homophones: creak, crick
creek (plural creeks)
- (Britain) A small inlet or bay, often saltwater, narrower and extending farther into the land than a cove; a recess in the shore of the sea, or of a river; the inner part of a port that is used as a dock for small boats.
- 1853, John Ruskin, “Torcello”, in The Stones of Venice, volume II (The Sea-Stories), London: Smith, Elder, and Co., […], →OCLC, § I, page 11:
- Seven miles to the north of Venice, the banks of sand, which near the city rise little above low-water mark, attain by degrees a higher level, and knit themselves at last into fields of salt morass, raised here and there into shapeless mounds, and intercepted by narrow creeks of sea.
- 1887 March 21, Rudyard Kipling, “Kidnapped”, in Plain Tales from the Hills, Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co.; London: W. Thacker & Co., published 1888, →OCLC, page 111:
- There is a tide in the affairs of men, / Which, taken any way you please, is bad, / And strands them in forsaken guts and creeks / No decent soul would think of visiting.
- (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US) A stream of water (often freshwater) smaller than a river and larger than a brook; in Australia, also used of river-sized bodies of water.
- 1997, Thomas Pynchon, chapter 67, in Mason & Dixon, 1st US edition, New York: Henry Holt and Company, →ISBN, part Two: America, page 650:
- We all feel it Looming, even when we're awake, out there ahead someplace, the way you come to feel a River or Creek ahead, before anything else,— sound, sky, vegetation,— may have announced it.
- Any turn or winding.
- beck, brook, burn, stream
- (regional US terms:) run (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia), brook (New England), branch (Southern US), bayou (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Southeastern Texas)
- Barking Creek
- Bear Creek
- Big Creek
- Bow Creek
- Clear Creek
- Cooper's Creek
- creek bed
- creekward, creekwards
- Cripple Creek
- Deer Creek
- dry creek
- God willing and the creek don't rise
- Honey Creek
- Kings Creek
- Licking Creek
- Lord willing and the creek don't rise
- Oak Creek
- Otter Creek
- Paint Creek
- Prairie Creek
- Pryor Creek
- Rock Creek
- run like a dry creek
- Salt Creek
- Silver Creek
- Swan Creek
- Tennant Creek
- up a creek
- up a creek without a paddle
- up poo creek
- up shit creek
- up shit creek without a paddle
- up shit's creek
- up shit's creek without a paddle
- up the creek
- up the creek without a paddle
- Vance Creek
- Werris Creek
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- ^ “creek”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.
- ^ Barry Lopez, Debra Gwartney, Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape →ISBN, page 92: "Creek is a word that has been transformed by the North American continent. The British usage of the term was its first meaning here, and this definition still applies along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Maine: a saltwater inlet narrower than a cove; the estuary of a stream. But as settlement probed inland beyond the coastal plain, following watercourses upstream well past the influence of salt and tides, the word creek held on for any flow..."