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The gradual expansion or widening in scope of a project, action, or task, especially a military operation, beyond its initial goal or objective. Congress is wary of granting the president's request for military authority in the region, fearing a repeat of the mission creep that plagued his last war effort.
To enter some place stealthily. I'll watch the door while you creep into the lab and steal the poison. That possum must have crept into the basement while the door was open.
creep across something
1. Lit. to move across something slowly and carefully; to sneak across something. The soldiers crept slowly across the rope bridge. The cat crept across the floor, stalking the mouse.
2. Fig. [for light, fog, etc.] to move slowly across a place or an area. A heavy fog crept across the coastal areas. The spotlight crept across the stage from one side to the other, as if looking for the performer.
creep along something
to move along something slowly and carefully; to sneak along something. Creep along the side of the building until you reach the door. The cat crept along the narrow kitchen counter.
to travel away slowly and carefully; to sneak away. The boys were completely ashamed and crept away. The cat crept away quietly.
Fig. [for time] to pass slowly. The minutes crept by as I awaited Mrs. Barron's telephone call. I know the days will creep by until we finally get our test results.
creep in (to something)
to go into something or a place slowly and carefully; to sneak into something or a place. The cat crept into the bedroom. Max planned to creep into the house and take cash and jewelry.
(from under someone or something) Go to out (from under someone or something).
creep out (of something)
to go out of something or a place slowly and carefully; to sneak out of something or a place. A little mouse crept out of the cupboard. The fox crept out of the henhouse, carrying a chicken.
creep over someone or something
1. Lit. [for something, such as an insect] to walk or crawl over someone or something. A huge ant crept over me, and I just lay there.
2. Fig. [for darkness] to move slowly over someone or something. The shadows crept over the picnic and made everyone realize what time it was. Dusk crept over us.
creep under something
to move slowly and carefully underneath something; to sneak underneath something. The dog crept under the table to escape punishment. The chipmunk crept under a pile of leaves and disappeared.
[for darkness] to move gradually and slowly [toward someone or something]. Dusk crept up and swallowed us in darkness.
creep up on someone or something
to sneak up on someone or something. Please don't creep up on me like that. You scared me to death. The cat crept up on the mouse. *the creeps and *the willies a state of anxiety or uneasiness. (*Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone ~.) I get the creeps when I see that old house. I really had the willies when I went down into the dark basement.
make someone's flesh crawland make someone's skin crawl
to cause someone's skin to feel funny or get goose pimples through fright. Just to hear the story of the killings made my flesh crawl. The horror movie made our skin crawl.
*out of the woodwork
Fig. out into the open from other places or a place of concealment. (*Typically: bring someone or something ~; come ~; creep ~.) When the cake appeared, all the office people suddenly came out of the woodwork.
When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window.and When the wolf comes in at the door, love creeps out of the window.
Prov. If a couple gets married because they are in love, but they do not have enough money, they will stop loving each other when the money runs out. You young folks may think you can live on love alone, but when poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window. After Susan lost her job, she and her unemployed husband had a big argument. When the wolf comes in at the door, love creeps out of the window.
give you the creeps
1. to make you feel frightened or nervous give you the willies This old house gives me the creeps.
2. to cause someone to feel dislike or disgust My neighbor gives me the creeps.
Usage notes: also used in the form get the creeps: The moment she met Billy, she got the creeps.
make somebody's flesh crawl/creep
if someone or something makes your flesh creep, you think they are extremely unpleasant or frightening (often in present tenses) Spiders and insects really make my flesh crawl. I hate that guy in accounts, he makes my flesh creep.
give somebody the creeps/willies(informal)
to make you feel frightened and anxious, especially when there is no real reason for this This old house gives me the creeps. I've never liked spiders - they give me the willies.
creep up on
Advance slowly or stealthily, as in The cat crept up on the bird, or Autumn is creeping up on us. This expression is recorded in slightly different form- creep in or creep on -from the 15th century on. One of the Hymns to the Virgin and Christ (c. 1430) has "Now age has cropen [crept] up on me ful stille."
make one's flesh creep
Also, make one's skin crawl. Cause one to shudder with disgust or fear, as in That picture makes my flesh creep, or Cockroaches make my skin crawl. This idiom alludes to the feeling of having something crawl over one's body or skin. The first term appeared in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1727): "Something in their countenance made my flesh creep with a horror I cannot express." The variant dates from the late 1800s.
out of the woodwork
Emerging from obscurity or a place of seclusion. It often is put as come (or crawl) out of the woodwork, as in The candidates for this job were coming out of the woodwork. The expression alludes to insects crawling out of the interior wooden fittings of a house, such as baseboards and moldings. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]
Also, the willies. A sensation of horror or repugnance, as in That weird man gives me the creeps, or I get the willies when I hear that dirge music. The first of these colloquial terms alludes to a sensation of something crawling on one's skin. Charles Dickens used it in David Copperfield (1849) to describe a physical ailment: "She was constantly complaining of the cold and of its occasioning a visitation in her back, which she called 'the creeps.'" But soon after it was used to describe fear and loathing. The variant dates from the late 1800s, and both its allusion and origin are unclear.
n. a weird person; an eerie person. Charlie is such a creep when he’s stoned.
creep jointand creep dive
n. an unpleasant place populated by creeps. You shouldn’t go into a creep joint like that alone. What’s a nice girl like you doing in a creep dive like this?
See creep joint
n. the jitters; a case of nerves. These movies always give me the creeps.
out of the woodwork
Out of obscurity or a place of seclusion: People were coming out of the woodwork to apply for the desirable job.