Meaning of CREEP in English


I. creep 1 /kriːp/ BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle crept /krept/) [intransitive always + adverb/preposition]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: creopan ]

1 . to move in a quiet, careful way, especially to avoid attracting attention

creep into/over/around etc

Johann would creep into the gallery to listen to the singers.

He crept back up the stairs, trying to avoid the ones that creaked.

2 . if something such as an insect, small animal, or car creeps, it moves slowly and quietly ⇨ crawl

creep down/along/away etc

a caterpillar creeping down my arm

3 . to gradually enter something and change it

creep in/into/over etc

Funny how religion is creeping into the environmental debate.

4 . if a plant creeps, it grows or climbs up or along a particular place

creep up/over/around etc

ivy creeping up the walls of the building

5 . if mist, clouds etc creep, they gradually fill or cover a place

creep into/over etc

Fog was creeping into the valley.

6 . British English informal to be insincerely nice to someone, especially someone in authority, in order to gain an advantage for yourself

creep (up) to somebody

I’m not the kind of person to creep to anybody.

7 . somebody/something makes my flesh creep used to say that someone or something makes you feel strong dislike or fear:

His glassy stare made my flesh creep.

creep up on somebody/something phrasal verb

1 . to surprise someone by walking up behind them silently:

Don’t yell – let’s creep up on them and scare them.

2 . if a feeling or idea creeps up on you, it gradually increases:

The feeling she had for Malcolm had crept up on her and taken her by surprise.

3 . to seem to come sooner than you expect:

Somehow, the end of term had crept up on us.

• • •


■ to walk quietly

▪ tiptoe to walk quietly and carefully on your toes because you do not want to make a noise:

I tiptoed out trying not to wake the baby.

▪ creep to walk quietly and slowly because you do not want anyone to see or hear you:

Stella crept up the stairs, hoping not to wake her parents.

▪ sneak to walk quietly so that no-one notices you, especially because you are doing something you should not do:

They sneaked off without paying.


I quickly sneaked out to have a cigarette.

▪ pad to walk quietly without wearing shoes – also used about cats and dogs walking quietly:

Michelle got up and padded barefoot down to the kitchen.


The cat padded in, asking for her food.

II. creep 2 BrE AmE noun [countable]

1 . especially American English informal someone who you dislike extremely:

Get lost, you little creep!

2 . British English informal someone who tries to make you like them or do things for them by being insincerely nice to you:

Don’t try and flatter her – she doesn’t approve of creeps.

3 . give somebody the creeps if a person or place gives you the creeps, they make you feel nervous and a little frightened, especially because they are strange:

That house gives me the creeps.

4 . mission/cost/grade etc creep when something gradually starts to go beyond what it was intended to deal with or include:

He denied that giving civilian tasks to the NATO forces was a case of mission creep.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.