A creek is a stream — like a river, but smaller — and if you grew up in the TV version of rural America, you probably had a creek babbling through your backyard and a dog that looked like Lassie.

If you're "up a creek," or "up a creek without a paddle," you've got a problem with no solution in sight. Say you're out in the middle of nowhere, your cell phone battery has just died, and your car won't start. Unless you've got a solar charger or a tow truck comes along, you're definitely up a creek.

Definitions of creek

n a natural stream of water smaller than a river (and often a tributary of a river)

“the creek dried up every summer”
Bull Run
a creek in northeastern Virginia where two battles were fought in the American Civil War
a creek emptying into the Hellespont in present-day Turkey; at its mouth in 405 BC the Spartan fleet under Lysander defeated the Athenians and ended the Peloponnesian War
a small brook
Type of:
stream, watercourse
a natural body of running water flowing on or under the earth

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