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See also: CREEP



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 *grewbʰ- (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.


  • enPR: krēp, IPA(key): /kɹiːp/, [kʰɹiːp]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːp


creep (third-person singular simple present creeps, present participle creeping, simple past crept or creeped or (archaic) crope, past participle crept or creeped or (archaic) cropen)

  1. (intransitive) To move slowly with the abdomen close to the ground.
    Synonym: crawl
    Lizards and snakes crept over the ground.
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit:
      One evening, while the Rabbit was lying there alone, watching the ants that ran to and fro between his velvet paws in the grass, he saw two strange beings creep out of the tall bracken near him.
    • 1994, “On the Huai River”, in A Drifting Boat: An Anthology of Chinese Zen Poetry[1], Fredonia, NY: White Pine Press, →ISBN, →OCLC, page 138:
      Reed tips face the dawn
      shivering in the autumn wind
      At P'u-k'ou the winter tide
      has not yet come
      Sunrise on the sandy bank
      pocked with narrow caves
      Pale frogs and dark crabs
      creep without end.
  2. (intransitive, of plants) To grow across a surface rather than upwards.
  3. (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; [...].
    • 1967, Barbara Sleigh, Jessamy, Sevenoaks, Kent: Bloomsbury, published 1993, →ISBN, page 84:
      She crept up the stairs, keeping well into the side because she knew they were less likely to creak this way.
  4. (intransitive) To make small gradual changes, usually in a particular direction.
    Prices have been creeping up all year.
  5. 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.
    • 1706, John Locke, Of the Conduct of the Understanding[2], Fallacies:
      [] guard his understanding from being imposed on by the willful or at least undesigned sophistry which creeps into most of the books of argument.
    • 1966 December, Stephen Stills, “For What It's Worth”‎[3]performed by Buffalo Springfield:
      Paranoia strikes deep / Into your life it will creep / It starts when you're always afraid / Step out of line, the man come and take you away
  6. 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.
  7. To move or behave with servility or exaggerated humility; to fawn.
    A creeping sycophant.
  8. To have a sensation as of insects creeping on the skin of the body; to crawl.
    The sight made my flesh creep.
  9. To drag in deep water with creepers, as for recovering a submarine cable.
  10. (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."

Derived terms[edit]



creep (countable and uncountable, plural creeps)

  1. The movement of something that creeps (like worms or snails).
  2. A relatively small gradual change, variation or deviation (from a planned value) in a measure.
  3. A slight displacement of an object; the slight movement of something.
  4. (uncountable) The gradual expansion or proliferation of something beyond its original goals or boundaries, considered negatively.
    Christmas creep
    feature creep
    instruction creep
    mission creep
  5. (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.
  6. (materials science) An increase in strain with time; the gradual flow or deformation of a material under stress.
  7. (geology) The imperceptible downslope movement of surface rock.
  8. (informal, derogatory) Someone creepy (annoyingly unpleasant), especially one who is strange or eccentric.
    Synonyms: creepazoid, creeper, creepoid
    Coordinate term: weirdo
    • 1968, Mickey Spillane, Delta Factor:
      "You mentioned some others," I said.
      "More creeps," she told me. '"That guy was plain looking for trouble. You know, he starts hanging out with some of the shooters Whitey Tass keeps around, angling for an introduction to the big man himself, and he's damn lucky he got picked up by the fuzz before Whitey got sore. He runs too big an operation in the city to be bugged by a pig like Yard. One day Lou Steubal tried to get an inside track with Whitey, levering him on account of what Whitey did to his sister, and they found Lou in the drink. It looked like Lou got gassed up and fell in, but don't try to tell me that. Whitey had him tapped out."
    • 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
    • 1992, Thaisa Frank, A Brief History of Camouflage, page 113:
      [] the catalyst was getting locked in the bathroom of her office with her landlord. "Two hours with that creep," she said. "You can't believe it [] he got a ladder and came through the bathroom window and almost broke his balls on that pointed tampax box he made us buy. He brought hammers and screws and drills, but we were trapped. It got dark [] He kept chipping away at the lock, and between the chipping he talked to me about his back and a couple of knee-operations. Finally someone tapped on the door from the outside and it opened, just like that. [] "
    • 1994, Bapsi Sidhwa, An American Brat, page 168:
      "Why're you working your butt off for that creep? He takes your money, borrows your car, and treats you like shit. Can't you tell he's on drugs?"
    • 1995, Bob Cattell, Glory in the Cup, page 36:
      "Outrageous!" said Tylan. "You know, without Fingers and baby Trev, we could have won."
      "Yeah, Trevor, what a creep — running off home at half-time like that," said Frankie.
  9. (informal, derogatory, especially) A person who engages in sexually inappropriate behaviour or sexual harassment. [21st century]
    Synonyms: pervert, (slang) perv
    • 2016, Jón Gnarr, Hrefna Lind Heimisdóttir, translated by Lytton Smith, The Pirate, page 201:
      It was whispered that the priest was a pervert. Was he? The girls said he was a creep. I didn't quite know what it meant to be a creep, but it was obviously not a good thing. It was said that he sometimes fondled the girls, their breasts, and said lousy things to them, that they were beautiful or something like that. [] Disgusting guys. I thought the guy at Bústaðir was a creep. An old man who liked to dance.
    • 2022, Scott Bell, Pest Cemetery, page 235:
      Saiera shuddered through an exaggerated shiver. "He's a creep. He was a creep in high school, and he's been a creep ever since. Look..." She flipped to the index, found what she was looking for, and fanned the pages until she reached the one she wanted. "Here he is.
      A young Andy Gluck, chubby as a penguin, stared out of the page from behind round wire-frame glasses. A camera hung from a strap around his neck. []
      "He doesn't look creepy," I said. "Kind of nerdy, in a harmless way.
      "Looks can be deceiving. See that camera? He was always going around with that camera, snapping pictures. Some girls caught him trying to get 'up skirt' shots while they sat at their desks. [] "
  10. (agriculture) A barrier with small openings used to keep large animals out while allowing smaller animals to pass through.

Derived terms[edit]

other terms