Definition of creep in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Move slowly and carefully in order to avoid being heard or noticed.

    ‘he crept downstairs, hardly making any noise’
    ‘they were taught how to creep up on an enemy’
    • ‘Not bothering to fix his bed, he carefully crept out of his room.’
    • ‘Much later, he crept downstairs and drank from his water dish, but he wasn't his old self and took no notice of me.’
    • ‘Slowly and carefully, I crept over the back of the couch to go see it.’
    • ‘She carefully crept around them and made her way to Fiona.’
    • ‘After signaling everyone to stay outside, I carefully crept back into my room where I heard them discussing, yet again, me.’
    • ‘Slowly he crept towards Lana, conscious of his every move, careful not to make a sound.’
    • ‘Rochelle heard them and crept softly into the kitchen, just as Angel turned away.’
    • ‘Early the next morning she crept downstairs and picked up the broken pieces of the mirror, drove to the lake and threw them all into the river.’
    • ‘That night, at midnight, Jon crept carefully into the Princess's chambers.’
    • ‘She carefully crept onto the bed and put her arms around him.’
    • ‘She carefully crept forward and jumped down a small hole, disappearing into the darkness with a small splash.’
    • ‘The next day Annabelle crept slowly around the castle, trying to avoid going to see Adrian at all.’
    • ‘Sometimes, when Josie knew know no one would notice, she'd creep downstairs to the kitchen as quiet as a mouse and tiptoe out the back door when the cook wasn't looking.’
    • ‘I dropped my counseling folder onto the desk and walked outside silently, carefully creeping around the corner.’
    • ‘Without a sound Elizabeth slipped into the house and carefully crept through the kitchen and then up the stairs.’
    • ‘I creep downstairs, cringing at the creaking of every hardwood step as I make my way down.’
    • ‘He carefully slid out from under the boxes and slowly crept over to the desk, one eye on the door, the other on the bookcases.’
    • ‘As Jack slowly crept forward he heard a soft buzzing off in the corner.’
    • ‘She carefully crept down the hall, making sure to avoid the creaky floorboards, towards Jordan's office.’
    • ‘Quietly, so Chase would not hear her downstairs, she crept over to the window and looked out.’
    crawl, move on all fours, move on hands and knees, pull oneself, inch, edge, slither, slide, squirm, wriggle, writhe, worm, worm one's way, insinuate oneself
    sneak, steal, slip, slink, sidle, skulk, pad, prowl, tiptoe, pussyfoot, soft-shoe, tread warily, move stealthily, move furtively, move unnoticed, walk quietly
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    1. 1.1 (of a thing) move very slowly at an inexorably steady pace.
      ‘the fog was creeping up from the marsh’
      • ‘The bedroom door slowly crept opened as the mid-morning sunlight bled into the dingy space.’
      • ‘As the sun crept its way slowly into her view, she saw the same picture reflected in the lake's surface.’
      • ‘The bus crept slowly through the viscous traffic pouring into the city.’
      • ‘Slowly the sand crept over him and he gave in to the cocooned abyss.’
      • ‘At some points the cave walls crept slowly closer to the path we walked, before steering away again into the distance.’
      • ‘A shooting star was slowly creeping across the sky.’
      • ‘I had trouble keeping my eyes off the clock as the time slowly crept forward.’
      • ‘Slowly, a notion crept across his brain; this strange language was not entirely unknown to him.’
      • ‘The sunlight crept through my eyelids slowly as I regained consciousness.’
      • ‘Time crept as slowly as the shadow on a sundial and my precious dreams were jigsawed around me.’
      • ‘Tears slowly crept down her face as she battled between what she saw and what he was saying.’
      • ‘As the morning slowly crept forward, more and more things began to stir.’
      • ‘Slowly, as June crept on, life began to take on some semblance of normalcy for most of the residents of London.’
      • ‘As the sun's first rays slowly crept over the horizon, he began to speak.’
      • ‘Slowly darkness crept over and covered her surroundings until nothing but shadows where visible.’
      • ‘Time crept slowly by as my thoughts flashed over the good day I had enjoyed.’
      • ‘And then, ever so slowly, a smile crept across her face.’
      • ‘I can feel the sense of wellness slowly creeping back into my bones.’
      • ‘The night crept on slowly, bringing with it the orchestra of crickets outside and echoing sounds in the store.’
      • ‘Exhaustion slowly crept over her and she decided to rest in the parlor so that if her help was needed she'd be ready.’
    2. 1.2 (of a plant) grow along the ground or other surface by means of extending stems or branches.
      ‘thorny roses crept up the dull gray walls’
      • ‘Bright green baby's tears, blue star creeper, and creeping thyme grow below them.’
      • ‘Because of the harsh environment, most plants that survive in the tundra are dwarfed, and many have stems that creep along the ground.’
      • ‘This plant is happy to creep along the ground or to climb into trees and into hedges.’
      • ‘Genie unraveled the huge vines that crept along the wall and revealed a door.’
      • ‘It can also reproduce asexually using stems that creep along the ground and establish new roots, giving rise to its name.’
      • ‘The trees were tall and vast, of tropical origin, with vines hanging from the branches and creeping along the damp earth.’
      • ‘Branches and trunks twist and bend as they grow, creeping horizontally along the ground as well as reaching toward the sky.’
      • ‘There were potted plants here and there; hanging plants and creeping vines.’
      • ‘This beautiful plant has two pink bell-like flowers on a slender stem and a thicker stem below, which creeps along forming small mats of the plant.’
      • ‘He pulled up to a huge gate, covered in rose vines creeping along the steel bars.’
      • ‘When the seed sprouts and the vine begins to creep along the ground, it seems it will never quit (similar to other squash).’
      • ‘It has short, creeping rhizomes from which new shoots arise each year, and is an attractive species with horticultural potential.’
      • ‘Moss has crept between the bricks until it's impossible to distinguish old sections of paving from new.’
      • ‘Low, mounding chamomile and creeping thymes grow between the nemesias.’
      • ‘Thick moss layered the rest of the floor like a carpet, occasional vines of twisting colored flowers creeping over the vibrant green.’
      • ‘As culinary plants, most creeping thymes tank far below the English and French thymes, or the best-flavored citrus strains.’
      • ‘Or arrange them on packed soil so you can grow plants such as creeping thyme in wider spaces between them.’
      • ‘Once you have the rocks in place, plant some ivy and creeping violets throughout, so that it will spill over the rocks.’
      • ‘Allow creeping vines to run along the ground in areas that are difficult to mow.’
      • ‘Vines crept apace along neighborhood fences, their flowers still opening in the warm mornings.’
    3. 1.3 (of a plastic solid) undergo gradual deformation under stress.
  • 2creep up(of an unwanted and negative characteristic or fact) occur or develop gradually and almost imperceptibly.

    ‘errors crept into his game’
    • ‘That was before errors really crept into their game to deny them two points.’
    • ‘I have borrowed my facts and ideas from odd books, and many errors may have crept in.’
    • ‘They often tried to force the play early and, with unforced errors also creeping in at inopportune times, they rarely completed sets of six.’
    • ‘An error crept into this short report at the proof stage, for which we apologise.’
    • ‘Moreover, even among experienced transcribers errors can creep in.’
    • ‘Be particularly vigilant when you open an account, as it is possible for clerical errors to creep in when details are input.’
    • ‘Errors continued to creep into their game as they attempted to force an opening.’
    • ‘We may not agree with such choices, but we can respect the contextual pressures which led to them and try to show where error creeps into the argument.’
    • ‘Good practice in data analysis would be random checks against source data to ensure that no errors have crept in during data processing.’
    • ‘This isn't meant as a boast: I'm sure that minor errors creep in occasionally.’
    • ‘An error crept into your table reporting the results of the Scottish Parliamentary Survey.’
    • ‘With nerves starting to set in, a few unforced errors started to creep into Reta's game.’
    • ‘The issues have changed little since his day, and the same error keeps on creeping in.’
    • ‘If negative thoughts start creeping in at the last second, step back, take a deep breath and laugh at yourself.’
    • ‘Sometimes that cold creeps in gradually and the end result is pneumonia or even a heart attack.’
    • ‘Although several people worked on the calendar and double-checked all the dates, an error crept in.’
    • ‘They also rigorously plan their concerts to ensure the minimum room for errors to creep in.’
    • ‘Zoe's illness took her family by surprise and crept into their lives gradually.’
    • ‘Others believe that God inspired human beings to write it, thereby allowing for errors to creep in.’
    • ‘The copying process, however, is deliberately made imperfect, so that the occasional error creeps in.’
    penetrate, invade, intrude on, insinuate oneself into, worm one's way into, sneak into, slip into, creep into, impinge on, trespass on, butt into
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    1. 2.1creep up Increase slowly but steadily in number or amount.
      ‘interest rates have been creeping up in the past few weeks’
      • ‘So, the blue line creeps up as the value of your gift increases.’
      • ‘Fixed rates started creeping up at the end of last summer in anticipation of increases in the base rate.’
      • ‘‘There are far too many houses on that site and the number has crept up and up,’ he said.’
      • ‘In recent weeks, interest rates offered on fixed-rate mortgages have started to creep up.’
      • ‘But he says when the Government is pressured on rates starting to creep up, it will win the political battle.’
      • ‘If interest rates were to creep up a few percentage points half the country would be facing financial ruin.’
      • ‘There is no way we want to see interest rates creeping up before the end of the year.’
      • ‘So, now's a good time to price-check your policies before premium rates begin to creep up.’
      • ‘The idea is that the risks are lower because your investment creeps up in value more steadily over the years.’
      • ‘We are also seeing interest rates creeping up in an effort to stem the flow of borrowing that puts an extra burden on the shoulders of us all.’


  • 1informal A detestable person.

    • ‘Unfortunately, these creeps are hiding behind the First Amendment and doing things that in no civilized society should be tolerated.’
    • ‘You're such a heartless creep, I don't know why I put up with you.’
    • ‘He was worshipped by cartoon creeps and hot-rod hooligans alike.’
    • ‘On this issue, I hope that they stir things up so that the creep gets what he deserves, and that organ donation also gets a run out of this terrible tragedy.’
    • ‘I like the creeps and weirdos on public transport.’
    • ‘Falling onto the floor, I heard that creep laugh and he ran away.’
    • ‘It's hard to screen out the creeps and the perverts and the losers while holding out hope you'll some day meet Mr. Right.’
    • ‘Why did that little creep have to be right about everything?’
    • ‘Wendy took off, wailing and crying about me being some heartless creep with no consideration for her feelings.’
    • ‘If you die suddenly, all sorts of creeps can instantly show up and loot your corpse.’
    • ‘I'll tell you why guys are so fickle at times, if you'll tell me why so many cool girls go ga-ga over creeps.’
    • ‘Besides, if the guy was a creep, he would have done something last night.’
    • ‘Even if this guy was a total creep, maybe his superiors would be better.’
    • ‘Indigenous people who I tell these things to find it spooky, and I have to admit that it's not fun being stalked by creeps.’
    • ‘And if some heartless creep makes rude remarks that hurt your friend, you are not responsible for his actions.’
    • ‘Economists are, in short, more likely than you or I to be selfish creeps.’
    • ‘Guys aren't the only insensitive creeps out there.’
    rogue, villain, wretch, reprobate
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    1. 1.1 A person who behaves in an obsequious way in the hope of advancement.
      • ‘I guess some people thought I was a creep, offering sycophantic praise of someone who happens to be my boss.’
      sycophant, obsequious person, crawler, groveller, truckler, toady, fawner, flatterer, lickspittle, doormat, kowtower, spaniel, uriah heep
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  • 2Slow movement, especially at a steady but almost imperceptible pace.

    ‘an attempt to prevent this slow creep of costs’
    • ‘As soon as the light turned green, I pulled up by the front of the dealership, and slowed to a creep as we both took a long look at the bikes.’
    • ‘They were nearly to the alcove, and she slowed to a creep as she now began moving the last few feet in an almost sideways gate, keeping her weight on her right leg.’
    • ‘I notice things like the slow creep of Q10 from advertising for women's products into advertising for male grooming products.’
    • ‘However, the existence of the income tax allowed for a slow creep that eroded the American resistance to income taxation.’
    • ‘The steady creep of branding in British schools has created an ideological battle that is tearing apart educators, parents and politicians.’
    • ‘I have had problems with their DNS about a year ago being slower than glacial creep.’
    • ‘Our understanding of biological processes progresses at a painful creep, each advance usually the result of work by multiple groups of scientists.’
    1. 2.1 The tendency of a car with automatic transmission to move when in gear without the accelerator being pressed.
    2. 2.2 The gradual downward movement of disintegrated rock or soil due to gravitational forces.
      ‘stones and earth slowly slip down the slopes by soil creep’
      • ‘Coincidentally, stiffness recovery in rigor conditions showed gradual creep before reaching a plateau.’
      • ‘Convex slope segments commonly occur on the upper parts of slopes, near the drainage divide, as a result of soil creep and rainsplash erosion.’
      • ‘However, the persistence of fault creep does pose a costly nuisance in terms of maintenance and repair.’
      • ‘This time-dependent creep is likely to arise from low-temperature intracrystalline plasticity in clay minerals.’
    3. 2.3 The gradual deformation of a plastic solid under stress.
      • ‘The low tensile strength and low creep strength of lead must always be considered when designing lead components.’
      • ‘When the stress is low enough, essentially all transient creep is linear with stress and recoverable.’
      • ‘This suggests that there is no characteristic time scale for the process, reminiscent of the dynamics of plastic flow in solids, which is termed creep.’
      • ‘Tungsten has high tensile strength and good creep resistance.’
      • ‘At the same time, stress relief is brought about and creep strength is improved.’
      • ‘That is, they can support stress levels just below the yield stress for very long periods of time without stress relaxation or creep.’
      • ‘At the peak of the 30th cycle, the load was held constant for 20 minutes and static creep deformation was recorded.’
      • ‘It is a useful test for sorting out new alloys and has direct application to design where creep deformation can be tolerated but fracture must be prevented.’
      • ‘Many artificial polymers share characteristic patterns of stress relaxation and creep compliance with time.’
      • ‘The processes result in improvements in yield strength, toughness and resistance to stress corrosion cracking, fatigue and creep.’
      • ‘Both deformation and creep mechanisms change with temperature.’
      • ‘The two stage trigger did exhibit some creep, but was light and broke crisply.’
    4. 2.4 Gradual bulging of the floor of a mine owing to pressure on the pillars.
      • ‘Pillar widening is a good hypothesis for creep rate reduction in mines.’


  • give someone the creeps

    • informal Induce a feeling of revulsion or fear in someone.

      • ‘If this news doesn't give you the creeps then you aren't thinking clearly.’
      • ‘She gets this look on her face that gives me the creeps, and I'm not the only one that feels that way.’
      • ‘The entire situation gave her the creeps, but she refused to become paralysed with fear.’
      • ‘It gives me the creeps sometimes to look through the files.’
      • ‘The sight of Chinese acupuncture, in particular, still gives me the creeps.’
      • ‘I can see why poker with friends might be pleasant, but solitary gambling in a commercial establishment gives me the creeps.’
      • ‘The thought of needles poking me all over the body really gives me the creeps.’
      • ‘Most people don't refrain from, say, marrying their siblings because it is illegal; they refrain because the very idea gives them the creeps.’
      • ‘It isn't easy to articulate a moral argument against cloning, beyond the fact that it gives me the creeps.’
      • ‘It gives me the creeps, just in time for Halloween.’
      scare, frighten, terrify, horrify, haunt
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Phrasal Verbs

  • creep someone out

    • Give someone an unpleasant feeling of fear or unease.

      ‘an anonymous note like that would creep me out’
      • ‘Those movies creep me out, I tell her.’
      • ‘These written professions of love completely creep me out.’
      • ‘The TV version, made in 1975, still creeps me out from the corners of my memory.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, lately he's been creeping me out.’
      • ‘The thought of him being anything close to a brother to me actually crept me out.’
      • ‘The limo driver creeps out the teens with sleazy demeanor.’
      • ‘Why the cellar creeps me out is a mystery.’
      • ‘Now that the spooky season is upon us, Old Montreal is a great area to creep yourself out with an evening walk.’
      • ‘That way, you won't be staring directly, which could creep someone out.’
      • ‘Most of my friends have clown phobias, which makes my life difficult cos he creeps them out.’


Old English crēopan ‘move with the body close to the ground’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kruipen. Sense 1 of the verb dates from Middle English.