Word Confusion: Creak versus Creek

Posted December 6, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

How difficult is it to understand the difference between creak and creek? One makes scary noises (think of that last scary movie you saw!) while the other soothes with its rippling waters — there just ain’t a creak in that creek!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Creak Creek
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

wooden rocking chair with creaking audio file

Image by Harry Walker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Image courtesy of 123RF, even if they can’t spell “creek”

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Verb, intransitive & transitive 1

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: creaks
Past tense or past participle: creaked
Gerund or present participle: creaking

Adjective 2; Noun 2, 3
Noun:
Harsh scraping or squeaking sound

Verb, intransitive:
Typically a wooden object that makes a harsh, high-pitched sound when being moved or when pressure or weight is applied

[Figurative] Show weakness or frailty under strain

Verb, transitive:
To cause to creak

Adjective:
Of, relating to, or denoting a group of native peoples of the southeastern U.S. in the 16th to 19th centuries 2

Noun:
A member of this same group 2

Stream, brook, or minor tributary of a river 3

Examples:
Noun:
The creak of a floorboard broke the silence.

I wish Jerry would oil that door. The creak is driving me mad.

I missed the sound of Grandma’s rocker creaking.

From inside came the creak and moan of a swinging door.

Verb, intransitive:

The floorboard creaked, breaking the silence.

Verb, transitive:
The seat creaked as George settled his bulk in it.

Adjective:
He’s a Creek Indian.

Noun:
He’s Creek.

Let’s go on down to the creek.

Derivatives:
Adjective: creaky
Adverb: creakily, creakingly
Noun: creakiness
History of the Word:
1 Middle English in the sense of croak, imitative. 2 16th century. A Native American tribe named for the waterways of the flatlands of Georgia and Alabama that they lived beside.

3 Middle English from the Old French crique or from Old Norse kriki meaning nook; perhaps reinforced by the Middle Dutch krēke. In the end, though, it’s of unknown ultimate origin.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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