creeper = boot-licker??

leticiapuravida

Senior Member
USA
English (US) - Spanish (CR)
In a textbook I am editing for Hungarian learners of English, I'm finding a use of "creeper" that is unknown to me as an AmE speaker.

It is included in this paragraph about a bad boss:

"He is narrow-minded, conceited, and self-important, and does not respect others' opinions. He favours the creepers, those who like to lick his boots."

The translation given for this word is the Hungarian equivalent of "boot-licker", but I've never seen "creeper" used this way. Oxford online doesn't include this meaning, but then I find their "North American informal" definition off, too (I'd use "creep" in that situation, not "creeper"). So I just thought I'd do one last check here, in case there's a BrE colloquial use of this term I'm unaware of.
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    thefreedictionary gives the following definitions: verb creep: 3. to act in a servile way ;fawn; cringe
    which leads to the noun creeper: One that creeps.
    They also give creep 11. a person considered to be obnoxious or servile.
    So they mean the same thing. To me, by using "creepers" (those who creep) rather than "creeps" the author seems to be referring more to their behaviour than the people themselves.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, I think in BE we'd use "creep" rather than "creeper" in this context.

    Another possibility for us is "crawler". :)
     

    SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    What I'm more interested in is what the original Hungarian expression was.

    Edit: I have a guess, if my gut feeling is right, the closest English word is adulator, although I'm not 100% sure.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    When was the book written? "He favours the creepers, those who like to lick his boots." - my guess is in the very early part of the 20th century. "Creep" would be OK now, but "those who like to lick his boots" sounds pretty dated as well. The current informal term refers to licking something a little higher from the floor.

    SReynolds, adulator = creep.
     

    SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    SReynolds, adulator = creep
    I guess my problem is that both creep and words with similar meaning (toady, etc.) have an implied secondary meaning that the person does what he does in the hope of advancement. I don't feel that the original Hungarian word always has this added connotation (and, to my knowledge, neither does adulator), but now we're drifting off-topic here.

    "Creep" would be OK now, but "those who like to lick his boots" sounds pretty dated as well.
    This seems to be a literal translation of the Hungarian expression in question. We would lick someone's feet and perhaps the translator thought that it'd be wise to combine the Hungarian and the English phrases into one.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    "A creeper" is fairly often used today. A creeper can be a creepy person, someone who creeps people out. It can also mean a stalker. Or it could just mean an unpleasant person. You might google "he's a creeper" to see some examples.

    As to what it means in the context, I can't make any suggestions.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    I've seen creeper used before in this way, or at least it sounds natural. As said above, there is a definition of the verb 'creep' as 'fawning' to someone, being very sycophantic. But it's a secondary definition and not commonly used these days. I think the word 'creeper' might be used to differentiate from the word 'creep'. You can use the word creep as a verb to mean 'be servile', but you can't really use the noun 'creep' these days with that meaning, so perhaps 'creeper' brings to mind the verb's secondary meaning a bit more than 'creep'. To be honest 'creep' and 'creeper' are largely interchangable.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    A "bootlicker" (or "toady") is vulgarly referred to as a "brown-noser", "brown" being the color of what is in the place where the person puts his nose (up someone's ass).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    If this is a textbook intended for schoolchildren, maybe "brown-nosers" wouldn't be appropriate. I think "yes-men" could cover the meaning (or maybe nowadays that should be "yes-persons" (yes-people?)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I like veli's "yes-men":thumbsup::thumbsup:

    "Creepers" has to go, I think - I can't imagine using it, myself.
     

    leticiapuravida

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (US) - Spanish (CR)
    Thanks all for the responses -- sorry I wasn't able to get back to the thread till just now.

    When was the book written? . . . my guess is in the very early part of the 20th century.
    Sadly, no --- try early 90s. Yes, 1990s. There are lots of out-of-date terms and usages in there (as you'll note from my recent threads -- and those are only the ones I've had trouble with...:confused: It's clear to me that the author did not have a lot of experience with the living language, so to speak, and got a lot from dictionaries and literature, without a sense of how current certain terms were.

    What I'm more interested in is what the original Hungarian expression was.

    Edit: I have a guess, if my gut feeling is right, the closest English word is adulator, although I'm not 100% sure.
    @SReynolds, I don't have an original Hungarian version of the entire sentence, but in the related vocabulary list that follows it, it gives:
    creeper -- talpnyaló, törtető
    to lick someone's boots -- nyalizik vkinek


    "A creeper" is fairly often used today. A creeper can be a creepy person, someone who creeps people out. It can also mean a stalker. Or it could just mean an unpleasant person. You might google "he's a creeper" to see some examples.
    @Hildy1 -- I'm curious as to what region of US/Canada you are from. I definitely have heard and use "creep" in both those meanings -- the scary, sneaky, stalker type, and the jerk. But I don't recall ever hearing "creeper" in that meaning (or at least hearing frequently enough that it sounds natural to me). I know I wouldn't use it. I grew up in the Northeast/New England. Maybe there's a North American regional difference here.

    If this is a textbook intended for schoolchildren, maybe "brown-nosers" wouldn't be appropriate. I think "yes-men" could cover the meaning (or maybe nowadays that should be "yes-persons" (yes-people?)
    The current informal term refers to licking something a little higher from the floor.
    Indeed. That's the general geography I would most likely refer to in a similar situation, as well. There's also "to kiss up to someone", but I think that also might be too informal for this text (a book to prepare learners for Cambridge oral exams).


    I like veli's "yes-men":thumbsup::thumbsup:

    "Creepers" has to go, I think - I can't imagine using it, myself.
    Agreed. Creepers is out. "Yes-men" is a very good option.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Hadn't noticed that SR had already mentioned "toady". If the textbook is indeed for kids, then, as veli says, "brown-noser" (like "ass-kisser", obviously) would be inappropriate. "suck-up", too. And "yes-men" [-people :D] is good.
    Added: I think an 'adulator' is one who worships sombody (from afar), a super-fan, not one who tries to ingratiate himself with somebody.
     
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