intr.v. crept(krĕpt), creep·ing, creeps
1. To move with the body close to the ground, as on hands and knees.
a. To move stealthily or cautiously.
b. To move or proceed very slowly: Traffic creeps at that hour.
a. To grow or spread along a surface, rooting at intervals or clinging by means of suckers or tendrils.
b. To grow horizontally under the ground, as the rhizomes of many plants.
4. To slip out of place; shift gradually.
5. To have a tingling sensation, made by or as if by things moving stealthily: a moan that made my flesh creep.
1. The act of creeping; a creeping motion or progress.
2. Slang An annoyingly unpleasant, unsettling, or repulsive person.
3. A slow flow of metal when under high temperature or great pressure.
4. A slow change in a characteristic of electronic equipment, such as a decrease in power with continued usage.
5. A usually unplanned and gradual shift or increase in uses or objectives away from what was originally specified or limited. Often used in combination: the function creep of using social security numbers for general identification purposes; mission creep from a military peacekeeping role to one of providing economic development.
6. Geology The slow movement of rock debris and soil down a weathered slope.
7. creeps Informal A sensation of fear or repugnance, as if things were crawling on one's skin: That house gives me the creeps.
creep out Informal
To cause (someone) to feel fear or repugnance: The scary movie really creeped me out.
[Middle English crepen, from Old English crēopan.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.