to move slowly with the body close to the ground, as a reptile or an insect, or a person on hands and knees.
to approach slowly, imperceptibly, or stealthily (often followed by up): We crept up and peeked over the wall.
to move or advance slowly or gradually: The automobile crept up the hill. Time just seems to creep along on these hot summer days.
to sneak up behind someone or without someone's knowledge (usually followed by up on): The prisoners crept up on the guard and knocked him out.
to enter or become evident inconspicuously, gradually, or insidiously (often followed by in or into:) The writer's personal bias occasionally creeps into the account.
to move or behave timidly or servilely.
to grow along the ground, a wall, etc., as a plant.
to advance or develop gradually so as to infringe on or supplant something else.
to flirt with or make persistent sexual advances toward someone (often followed by on): He creeps on all the women he meets.
to cheat on one’s sexual partner: He caught his wife creepin' with the guy who lives next-door.
Slang. to follow someone persistently or stealthily, as on a social media website (often followed by on): He spends a lot of time creeping on her Facebook profile.
Slang. to suddenly intrude into someone’s photograph as it is being taken: Who’s that creeping in the background of the picture?
to slip, slide, or shift gradually; become displaced.
(of a metal object) to become deformed, as under continuous loads or at high temperatures.
Nautical. to grapple (usually followed by for): The ships crept for their anchor chains.
Slang. to follow persistently or stealthily, especially online: I’ve been creeping her blog and found some great recipes.
Archaic. to creep along or over.
an act or instance of creeping: It seems as if time has slowed to a creep.
Slang. an obnoxious, disturbingly eccentric, deviant, or painfully introverted person.
Slang. an intelligence or counterintelligence agent; spy.
Slang. creeper (def. 10).
a gradual or inconspicuous increase, advance, change, or development: Avoid jargon creep in your writing.We are seeing the steady creep of consumerism.
the gradual movement downhill of loose soil, rock, gravel, etc.; solifluction.
the slow deformation of solid rock resulting from constant stress applied over long periods.
Mechanics. the gradual, permanent deformation of a body produced by a continued application of heat or stress.
a grappling iron; grapnel.
Firearms. the slack in a trigger mechanism before it releases the firing pin.
the creeps, Informal. a sensation of horror, fear, disgust, etc., suggestive of the feeling induced by something crawling over the skin: That horror movie gave me the creeps.
creep out, Informal. to cause to experience uneasiness or disgust: She’s been getting crank calls that are creeping her out. I was so creeped out that I had to sleep with the lights on.
Idioms about creep
make one's flesh creep, to be frightening or repellent; cause one to experience uneasiness: The eerie stories made our flesh creep.
The four principal parts of crēopan are crēopan (present infinitive and the dictionary headword), crēap (past tense singular), crupon (past tense plural), and cropen (past participle). The verb has very many bewildering dialect forms, variants, and spellings in Old English and later in Middle English.
Around 1300 we see the first appearance of inflections of weak verbs (also called regular verbs, with no vowel changes), like love, loved, loved, initially in the past tense. William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible (1534) has the past participle crept, replacing the strong form cropen. Some descendants of the Old English strong verb lived on in certain British and American dialects, such as the past tense crope, which shows up in Mark Twain’s representation of the Black Southern dialect spoken by the character Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884): “I crope out, all a-tremblin’.”
The slang meaning of the noun “an obnoxious, disturbingly eccentric person” arose in the late 19th century, connected with the now obsolete meaning “a person who creeps along; a sneak.”
- creep·ing·ly, adverb
- non·creep·ing, adjective
- out·creep, verb (used with object), out·crept, out·creep·ing.
- un·creep·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use creep in a sentence
Kate concludes that Jeanette may be a creep but that she would be an innocent one.‘Cruel Summer’ finale reveals the truth about its biggest mystery. We think. | Bethonie Butler | June 16, 2021 | Washington Post
The nurse returns with, of all things, “Sabbath’s Theater,” Philip Roth’s sexually explicit work about an aging, suicidal creep.In ‘The Living Sea of Waking Dreams,’ last-ditch medical interventions are their own horror story | Jake Cline | May 31, 2021 | Washington Post
Between the labor-intensive work and that superficial creep factor, making miniatures can be solitary or even ostracizing.
They must slow the creep of mortality until the last possible moment, at which point they abruptly pivot from healers to consolers.Emma Glass’s ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ powerfully describes what it means to be a health-care worker | Pete Tosiello | December 2, 2020 | Washington Post
We can start by refusing to make or use any more digital shackles, and by refusing to let their creep extend one inch—or one use case—further.Covid-19 has led to a worrisome uptick in the use of electronic ankle monitors | Amy Nordrum | October 8, 2020 | MIT Technology Review
Another acquaintance described Seevakumaran as “a creep,” who would “constantly hit on women.”
It distorts more and more every day of the month, every year, due to the slow effects of fault creep.
But generational differences soon creep in, threatening to pull the two couples apart.Oscar Season Kicks Off in Toronto: Channing Tatum, Kristen Stewart, and More Court Awards Glory | Marlow Stern | September 14, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Of course my very first words to that creep had been, “Which way to the mechanical sharks?”My Time on the Set of 'Jaws,' or How to Get a Photo of a Frickin' Mechanical Shark | Tom Shales | August 17, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
As the price of gas continues to creep up, it is helpful to find ways to reduce fuel costs.
He listened to tales of the Igorrotes, who live in huts like beehives and creep into them like insects.Alila, Our Little Philippine Cousin | Mary Hazelton Wade
It was some minutes before the children dared to creep out of the bushes again.The Box-Car Children | Gertrude Chandler Warner
There, in broad daylight, I saw Maloney deliberately creep closer to the fire and heap the wood on.Three More John Silence Stories | Algernon Blackwood
Don't let the idea creep into your head, that I am going to give you a dull and sleepy essay on music.Mike Marble | Uncle Frank
I am too sore and bruised to be thankful; I feel, sometimes, as if I could creep into a dark corner and cry my heart out.Tessa Wadsworth's Discipline | Jennie M. Drinkwater
British Dictionary definitions for creep
to crawl with the body near to or touching the ground
to move slowly, quietly, or cautiously
to act in a servile way; fawn; cringe
to move or slip out of place, as from pressure or wear
(of plants) to grow along the ground or over rocks, producing roots, suckers, or tendrils at intervals
(of a body or substance) to become permanently deformed as a result of an applied stress, often when combined with heating
to develop gradually: creeping unrest
to have the sensation of something crawling over the skin
(of metals) to undergo slow plastic deformation
the act of creeping or a creeping movement
slang a person considered to be obnoxious or servile
the continuous permanent deformation of a body or substance as a result of stress or heat
geology the gradual downwards movement of loose rock material, soil, etc, on a slope
a slow relative movement of two adjacent parts, structural components, etc
slow plastic deformation of metals
- See also creeps
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
Other Idioms and Phrases with creep
In addition to the idiom beginning with creep
- creep up on
- make one's flesh creep
- the creeps
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.