[ kreep ]
See synonyms for: creepcreepedcreepingcreeps on

verb (used without object),crept, creep·ing.
  1. to move slowly with the body close to the ground, as a reptile or an insect, or a person on hands and knees.

  2. to approach slowly, imperceptibly, or stealthily (often followed by up): We crept up and peeked over the wall.

  1. to move or advance slowly or gradually: The automobile crept up the hill. Time just seems to creep along on these hot summer days.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. to move or behave timidly or servilely.

  5. to grow along the ground, a wall, etc., as a plant.

  6. to advance or develop gradually so as to infringe on or supplant something else.

  7. Slang.

    • 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Slang. to suddenly intrude into someone’s photograph as it is being taken: Who’s that creeping in the background of the picture?

  10. to slip, slide, or shift gradually; become displaced.

  11. (of a metal object) to become deformed, as under continuous loads or at high temperatures.

  12. Nautical. to grapple (usually followed by for): The ships crept for their anchor chains.

verb (used with object),crept, creep·ing.
  1. Slang. to follow persistently or stealthily, especially online: I’ve been creeping her blog and found some great recipes.

  2. Archaic. to creep along or over.

  1. an act or instance of creeping: It seems as if time has slowed to a creep.

  2. Slang. an obnoxious, disturbingly eccentric, deviant, or painfully introverted person.

  1. Slang. an intelligence or counterintelligence agent; spy.

  2. a gradual or inconspicuous increase, advance, change, or development: Avoid jargon creep in your writing.We are seeing the steady creep of consumerism.

  3. Geology.

    • 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.

  4. Mechanics. the gradual, permanent deformation of a body produced by a continued application of heat or stress.

  5. a grappling iron; grapnel.

  6. Firearms. the slack in a trigger mechanism before it releases the firing pin.

  7. 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.

Verb Phrasespast and past participle creeped out,present participle creeping out.
  1. 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

  1. make one's flesh creep, to be frightening or repellent; cause one to experience uneasiness: The eerie stories made our flesh creep.

Origin of creep

First recorded before 900; Middle English crepen, Old English crēopan; cognate with Dutch kruipen, Old Norse krjūpa

synonym study For creep

1. See crawl1.

word story For creep

The verb creep comes from Old English crēopan, a strong verb (that is, a verb from a root that has vowel changes in its inflectional forms, as sing, sang, sung ).
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.”

Other words for creep

Other words from creep

  • creep·ing·ly, adverb
  • non·creep·ing, adjective
  • out·creep, verb (used with object), out·crept, out·creep·ing.
  • un·creep·ing, adjective

Words Nearby creep Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use creep in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for creep


/ (kriːp) /

verbcreeps, creeping or crept (intr)
  1. to crawl with the body near to or touching the ground

  2. to move slowly, quietly, or cautiously

  1. to act in a servile way; fawn; cringe

  2. to move or slip out of place, as from pressure or wear

  3. (of plants) to grow along the ground or over rocks, producing roots, suckers, or tendrils at intervals

  4. (of a body or substance) to become permanently deformed as a result of an applied stress, often when combined with heating

  5. to develop gradually: creeping unrest

  6. to have the sensation of something crawling over the skin

  7. (of metals) to undergo slow plastic deformation

  1. the act of creeping or a creeping movement

  2. slang a person considered to be obnoxious or servile

  1. the continuous permanent deformation of a body or substance as a result of stress or heat

  2. geology the gradual downwards movement of loose rock material, soil, etc, on a slope

  3. a slow relative movement of two adjacent parts, structural components, etc

  4. slow plastic deformation of metals

Origin of creep

Old English crēopan; related to Old Frisian kriāpa, Old Norse krjūpa, Middle Low German krūpen

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

also see:

  • 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.