crawl vs creep

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sophi979, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. sophi979 Senior Member

    What would be the difference between crawl and creep?

    Here's the context (a scene from a comedy movie):
    Ed: Billy Clyde, did you crawl when you were a kid?
    Billy Clyde: I don't rightly remember, Big Ed.
    Ed: Well, how 'bout creeping? Do you remember creeping before you walked?
    Billy Clyde: Not exactly.

  2. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    Crawl is simply to move forward on your hands and knees. Creep means to move stealthily (especially to avoid being noticed) or to behave obsequiously. If it's intended to mean something similar to crawl, then I would imagine it to be more like sliding along on your belly.
  3. sophi979 Senior Member

    Thanks, Liliput
  4. Lis48

    Lis48 Senior Member

    York, England
    English - British
    Liliput, do you not think there is a double meaning in creeping meaning sucking up/ deferring obsequiously to people? I assumed that was the humour.
  5. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    That certainly occurred to me, but it's impossible to say for certain without the full context, and even then it mightn't be completely clear.
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Speaking as one very familiar with the locomotory habits of infants, I know that some parents refer to what they do as crawling, others, creeping. Unfortunately I have never been able to discover the difference, leaving me with the impression that it is a matter of custom, or of family usage.
    I think, perhaps, that infants crept in the past whereas they crawl now.

    I know that children can be devious little creatures, but this does not normally develop to the point of "sucking up/deferring obsequiously" until well after they can walk.
  7. Johnny519 Senior Member

    << Moderator's note: Added to previous thread. >>

    When we talk about a person( like a baby or toddler) moves slowly with his hands or knees on the floor or ground.

    What is(are) the difference(s) between crawl and creep?

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2014
  8. kool-wind

    kool-wind Senior Member

    Anglais - Royaume Uni
    Babies crawl.

    Creeping can be a little more sinister and is slow careful movement to avoid being noticed.
    Not really applicable to babies. :)
  9. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    If the baby has a blood-stained axe in its hand, it's creeping towards you.
  10. Johnny519 Senior Member

    No, I didn't mean that. I know if someone creeps up on you, he sneaks up on you in a stealthy way. I am trying to figure out their difference when I want to describe someone who moves along slowly with his body prone to the floor or ground.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  11. Johnny519 Senior Member

    Yes, when we talk about parenting, crawl or crawling are mostly used. However, babies still creep. Both mean move along slowly with body close the ground, knees and hands on the ground.
  12. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    I'd say The tunnel was so low we had to crawl through it.
    Creep, at least figuratively, doesn't necessarily mean on your hands and knees. I never go into the woods. You never know who's creeping about. I agree with kool-wind. He crept up on me from behind.
    You can also say There were thousands of people crawling over the mountain. They weren't literally on therir hands and knees, but from a distance they looked like ants.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  13. Johnny519 Senior Member

    However, the 1st explanation of CREEP in Merriam Webster is as follows:

    1 a : to move along with the body prone and close to the ground b : to move slowly on hands and knees
  14. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    I agree. I suppose someone who's lurking with evil intent tries not to look obvious, for example by moving slowly, hiding in the bushes, or trying to look small. This can give us an idea of creeping.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  15. velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    "Creeping" is used in US English, along with "crawling", for the kind of early locomotion practiced by babies. In BE "creeping" isn't usually done on hands and knees.

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