• 2-minute read
  • 28th February 2020

Word Choice: Creak vs. Creek

“Creak” and “creek” are homophones: words that sound the same when spoken but have different meanings. So, what’s the difference between “creak” and “creek,” aside from their spellings? And how do you make sure you use the right word in your writing? Check out our tips below to find out.

Creak (A Harsh Squeaking Sound)

The verb “creak” means to make a long, harsh grating or squeaking sound. It typically describes a noise made by something that is old or worn out:

The floorboards in the attic creak as I walk over them.

For this reason, some people use it more metaphorically to imply being weak with age, even if there is no literal “creaking” sound in the situation described:

My old computer creaks whenever I download a new game.

“Creak” is also the noun form of this word, so we could say:

The rusty door hinges opened with a creak.

The adjectival and adverbial forms of this word, meanwhile, are “creaky” and “creakily,” respectively.

Creek (A Narrow River)

The noun “creek” usually means “a small stream or narrow river”:

We stopped to drink water from the creek.

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“Creek” is also the name of a Native American group and their language:

The Creek people once occupied what is now Georgia and Alabama.

This group is also commonly known as the Muscogee or Muscogee Creek.

Finally, in UK English, “creek” has a more specific meaning, referring to a narrow stretch of water that reaches a long way into land from the sea:

The creek wound inland for half a mile.

However, this definition is not typically used in American English.

Summary: Creak or Creak?

Although these words look and sound similar, remember:

  • Creak refers to a grating or squeaking sound. It can be a noun or a verb.
  • Creek refers to a narrow river. As a proper noun, it can also be used in reference to the Muscogee Creek people and their language.

Remember that you hear a creak with your ears, and you see a creek. And if you’d like more help ensuring your spelling is correct in any document, our expert proofreaders are on hand 24/7!

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