- U.S., Canada, and Australia. a stream smaller than a river.
- a stream or channel in a coastal marsh.
- Chiefly Atlantic States and British. a recess or inlet in the shore of the sea.
- an estuary.
- British Dialect. a narrow, winding passage or hidden recess.
- up the creek, Slang. in a predicament; in a difficult or seemingly hopeless situation.
Origin of creek
- plural Creek or Creeks a member of a confederacy of Native American peoples formerly living in Georgia and Alabama, now chiefly in Oklahoma
- any of the languages of these peoples, belonging to the Muskhogean family
- mainly British a narrow inlet or bay, esp of the sea
- US, Canadian, Australian and NZ a small stream or tributary
- up the creek slang in trouble; in a difficult position
Word Origin and History for up the creek
Indian tribe or confederation, 1725, named for creek, the geographical feature, and abbreviated from Ochese Creek Indians, from the place in Georgia where English first encountered them. Native name is Muskogee, a word of uncertain origin.
mid-15c., creke "narrow inlet in a coastline," altered from kryk (early 13c.; in place names from 12c.), probably from Old Norse kriki "corner, nook," perhaps influenced by Anglo-French crique, itself from a Scandinavian source via Norman. Perhaps ultimately related to crook and with an original notion of "full of bends and turns" (cf. dialectal Swedish krik "corner, bend; creek, cove").
Extended to "inlet or short arm of a river" by 1570s, which probably led to use for "small stream, brook" in American English (1620s). Also used there and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand for "branch of a main river," possibly from explorers moving up main rivers and seeing and noting mouths of tributaries without knowing they often were extensive rivers of their own. Slang phrase up the creek "in trouble," often especially "pregnant," first recorded 1941, perhaps originally armed forces slang for "lost while on patrol."
Idioms and Phrases with up the creek
up the creek
Also, up shit creek. See up a creek.
see up a creek.