Commonly Confused Words: Creak vs. Creek

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What does each word mean?

A creak is a squeaking sound like the one made by a stair.

Here is creak used in some example sentences:

  • Watch out for the creaking stair.
  • We heard an ominous creak.
  • The rocking chair creaked but no one was sitting in it.

Look up creak in the Spellzone dictionary.

A creek is a stream of water that is smaller than a river.

Here is creek used in some example sentences:

  • The bubbling creek was peaceful to listen to.
  • They live on the other side of the creek.
  • The creek connects to the river.

Look up creek in the Spellzone dictionary.


Where does each word come from?

The word creak dates to the early-fourteenth century and comes from ‘crecken’ which means ‘to utter a harsh cry’. Both creak and ‘crecken’ are examples of onomatopoeia. Creak has been used since the 1580s to describe the noise made by rusty hinges, wooden floorboards, and old bones; and since around 1600 to describe a ‘harsh grating sound’.

Creek dates to the mid-fifteenth century and comes from ‘creke’ which means ‘narrow inlet in a coastline’ and is an alteration of the early-thirteenth century ‘kryk’. ‘Kryk’ might come from the Old Norse ‘kriki’ meaning ‘corner’ or ‘nook’.

 

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference these words?

Compare creak to squeak – another onomatopoeic word that’s spelt with an eak.

Think of the two ees in creek as flowing one after the other like the water in a creek.

 

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20 Oct 2022
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