up the creek

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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Alternative forms[edit]


The Oxford English Dictionary records the first use of "up the creek" as being in American English in 1941.


up the creek (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) In trouble; in a difficult situation.
    We'll be up the creek if we lose those files, so we should back them up regularly.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The addition of "without a paddle" in alternative forms is considered by some to suggest an intensification of the difficulty of the situation.