[kreek, krik]


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

1200–50; Middle English creke, variant of crike < Old Norse kriki bend, crook
Related formssub·creek, noun
Can be confusedbrook creek river streamcreak creek croak



noun, plural Creeks, (especially collectively) Creek.

a member of a confederacy of North American Indians that in historic times occupied the greater part of Alabama and Georgia.
Also called Muskogee. a Muskogean language that is the language of the Creek Indians. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for creek

Contemporary Examples of creek

Historical Examples of creek

British Dictionary definitions for creek



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 for creek

C13: from Old Norse kriki nook; related to Middle Dutch krēke creek, inlet



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
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for creek

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."


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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with creek


see up a creek.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.