From Middle English crepen, from Old English crēopan (“to creep, crawl”), from Proto-West Germanic *kreupan, from Proto-Germanic *kreupaną (“to twist, creep”), from Proto-Indo-European *gerb- (“to turn, wind”). Cognate with West Frisian krippe, krûpe, West Frisian crjippa (“to creep”), Low German krepen and krupen, Dutch kruipen (“to creep, crawl”), Middle High German kriefen (“to creep”), Danish krybe (“to creep”), Norwegian krype (“to creep”), Swedish krypa (“to creep, crawl”), Icelandic krjúpa (“to stoop”).
The noun is derived from the verb.
- (intransitive) To move slowly with the abdomen close to the ground.
- Lizards and snakes crept over the ground.
- Synonym: crawl
- (intransitive) Of plants, to grow across a surface rather than upwards.
- (intransitive) To move slowly and quietly in a particular direction.
- He tried to creep past the guard without being seen.
- 1961 November, “More accelerations in the French winter timetables”, in Trains Illustrated, page 670:
- Electrification of the Eastern Region main line from Strasbourg, incidentally, is steadily creeping nearer to Paris, and is now complete as far as Château Thierry, 59 miles away; [...].
- (intransitive) To make small gradual changes, usually in a particular direction.
- Prices have been creeping up all year.
- To move in a stealthy or secret manner; to move imperceptibly or clandestinely; to steal in; to insinuate itself or oneself.
- Old age creeps upon us.
- To slip, or to become slightly displaced.
- The collodion on a negative, or a coat of varnish, may creep in drying.
- The quicksilver on a mirror may creep.
- To move or behave with servility or exaggerated humility; to fawn.
- A creeping sycophant.
- c. 1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene iii]:
- To come as humbly as they used to creep / To holy altars.
- To have a sensation as of insects creeping on the skin of the body; to crawl.
- The sight made my flesh creep.
- To drag in deep water with creepers, as for recovering a submarine cable.
- (intransitive, African-American Vernacular, slang) To covertly have sex (with a person other than one's primary partner); to cheat with.
- 2000, “It Wasn't Me”, performed by Shaggy:
- Honey came in and she caught me red-handed / Creeping with the girl next door / Picture this we were both butt naked / Banging on the bathroom floor
- 2003, “I Don't Wanna Know”, performed by Mario Winans:
- I don't wanna know / If you're playin' me, keep it on the low / 'Cause my heart can't take it anymore / And if you're creepin', please don't let it show
- 2016, Sherika Moore, Been Hustlen, →ISBN:
- "Now you want the nigga out 'cause he creeping with his baby momma."
- The movement of something that creeps (like worms or snails)
- A relatively small gradual change, variation or deviation (from a planned value) in a measure.
- A slight displacement of an object: the slight movement of something
- (uncountable) The gradual expansion or proliferation of something beyond its original goals or boundaries, considered negatively.
- christmas creep
- feature creep
- instruction creep
- mission creep
- (publishing) In sewn books, the tendency of pages on the inside of a quire to stand out farther than those on the outside of it.
- (materials science) An increase in strain with time; the gradual flow or deformation of a material under stress.
- (geology) The imperceptible downslope movement of surface rock.
- (informal, derogatory) Someone unpleasantly strange or eccentric.
- Synonym: weirdo
- 1992, “Creep”, in Pablo Honey, performed by Radiohead:
- But I'm a creep / I'm a weirdo / What the hell am I doing here? / I don't belong here
- (informal, derogatory) A frightening and/or disconcerting person, especially one who gives the speaker chills.
- Stop following me, you creep!
- (agriculture) A barrier with small openings used to keep large animals out while allowing smaller animals to pass through.