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[kreep] /krip/
verb (used without object), crept, creeping.
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.
  1. to flirt with or make persistent sexual advances toward someone (often followed by on):
    He creeps on all the women he meets.
  2. 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-networking 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.
verb (used with object), crept, creeping.
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. a boring, disturbingly eccentric, painfully introverted, or obnoxious person.
Slang. an intelligence or counterintelligence agent; spy.
Slang. creeper (def 9).
a gradual or inconspicuous increase, advance, change, or development: Avoid jargon creep in your writing.
We are seeing the steady creep of consumerism.
  1. the gradual movement downhill of loose soil, rock, gravel, etc.; solifluction.
  2. 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.
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
before 900; Middle English crepen, Old English crēopan; cognate with Dutch kruipen, Old Norse krjūpa
Related forms
creepingly, adverb
noncreeping, adjective
outcreep, verb (used with object), outcrept, outcreeping.
uncreeping, adjective
1. See crawl1 . 3. inch, crawl, dawdle, poke. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for creep up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We'll creep up through the shadow if he goes into the shack.

  • Presently his eyes began to creep up the paper in front of him.

    The Wonder J. D. Beresford
  • Sitting on the steps of the Duomo we seem to feel it creep up round our feet telling us stories of a past which is immortal.

    The Story of Perugia Margaret Symonds
  • And this ladder is for a man to creep up and get in through the bottom?

    Steve Young George Manville Fenn
  • He told Si there was something walking around in the woods, and he believed it was a rebel trying to creep up on them.

  • The cans might be treasure, you know, and we can creep up silently.

    The Merryweathers Laura E. Richards
  • Palliser voted that we should creep up to the elephants that were in the jungle close to us, instead of going into the high grass.

  • The sampan into which he stepped, in fact, did not creep up to the shore until evening.

    The Shadow Arthur Stringer
  • This curve is directed downwards, so that the wasp has to creep up it before reaching the actual orifice of the nest.

    Wild Bees, Wasps and Ants Edward Saunders
British Dictionary definitions for creep up


verb (intransitive) creeps, creeping, crept
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
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for creep up



Old English creopan "to creep" (class II strong verb; past tense creap, past participle cropen), from Proto-Germanic *kreupanan (cf. Old Frisian kriapa, Middle Dutch crupen, Old Norse krjupa "to creep"), from PIE root *greug-. Related: Crept; creeping.


"a creeping motion," 1818, from creep (v.). Meaning "despicable person" is 1935, American English slang, perhaps from earlier sense of "sneak thief" (1914). Creeper "a gilded rascal" is recorded from c.1600, and the word also was used of certain classes of thieves, especially those who robbed customers in brothels. The creeps "a feeling of dread or revulsion" first attested 1849, in Dickens.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for creep up



A disgusting and obnoxious person; crud, jerk, nerd •An isolated 1886 use seems to refer specifically to a cringing sycophant rather than a generally repulsive person: The man is nothing but a creep/ poets loyal to Blake and Whitman, the ''holy creeps''/ How to spend our money on making some creepo more creative in the growing world of weirdness

[first form 1930s+ students, second 1950s+; origin uncertain; perhaps fr one who makes one's flesh creep;perhaps generalized fr one who cringes and curries favor]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for creep up


Committee to Reelect the President
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with creep up


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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