be up (a/the) creek (without a paddle)

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be up (a/the) creek (without a paddle)

slang To be in a challenging or troublesome situation, especially one that cannot be easily resolved. I have no savings, so if I get fired from my job, I'll be up the creek without a paddle. Shouldn't we stop for gas? We'll be up a creek if the car dies on that desolate road ahead.
See also: creek, up

be up the creek without a paddle

be in severe difficulty, usually with no means of extricating yourself from it. informal
Often shortened to be up the creek , this expression is recorded in the mid 20th century as military slang for ‘lost’ (for example, while on a patrol).
See also: creek, paddle, up, without