creep

A beetle creeps along the ground. Moving slowly and silently, it creeps up on you. When you feel the touch of tiny insect legs on your skin, you shudder, because bugs give you the creeps.

Creep has a long history and a subtle variety of meanings. In its earliest recorded usage, it described the movement of legless creatures like snakes and worms. By the sixteenth century, creep meant "move slowly" and "move with stealth" like when you creep up to your brother to startle him. Charles Dickens coined the phrase, the creeps, to suggest the shuddering sensation you get when you see something gross and scary. A creep is a person who makes your skin crawl, a meaning that has been used in American English since 1935.

Definitions of creep
  1. verb
    move slowly; in the case of people or animals with the body near the ground
    synonyms: crawl
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    types:
    formicate
    crawl about like ants
    type of:
    go, locomote, move, travel
    change location; move, travel, or proceed, also metaphorically
  2. verb
    go stealthily or furtively
    synonyms: mouse, pussyfoot, sneak
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    type of:
    walk
    use one's feet to advance; advance by steps
  3. verb
    grow or spread, often in such a way as to cover (a surface)
    “ivy crept over the walls of the university buildings”
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    type of:
    diffuse, fan out, spread, spread out
    move outward
  4. noun
    a slow mode of locomotion on hands and knees or dragging the body
    “the traffic moved at a creep
    synonyms: crawl, crawling, creeping
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    type of:
    locomotion, travel
    self-propelled movement
  5. noun
    a slow longitudinal movement or deformation
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    type of:
    change of location, travel
    a movement through space that changes the location of something
  6. verb
    show submission or fear
    synonyms: cower, crawl, cringe, fawn, grovel
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    type of:
    bend, flex
    form a curve
  7. noun
    someone unpleasantly strange or eccentric
    synonyms: spook, weirdie, weirdo, weirdy
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    type of:
    disagreeable person, unpleasant person
    a person who is not pleasant or agreeable
  8. noun
    a pen that is fenced so that young animals can enter but adults cannot
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    type of:
    pen
    an enclosure for confining livestock
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