Make Your Editor Cry: Creek vs. Creak

Make Your Editor Cry: Creek vs. Creak

Creek and creak are homophones. They are two different words that are pronounced in the same way though spelled differently and having different meanings.

Creek

Creek is a noun referring to a narrow stream that is often a minor tributary to a river, or a small inlet that is narrow and sheltered. The word creek is most probably derived from the Old Norse word “kriki” which means nook or corner.

NOTE: When capitalized, Creek can also refer to a confederacy of North American indigenous people of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida between 16th and 19th centuries that spoke the Muskogean language as well as their descendants. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation now based in Oklahoma is the largest federally recognized Muscogee tribe, though there are other Muscogee groups based in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and other parts of Oklahoma.

Creak

Creak is an Old English word that can be a noun or a verb, but in both cases, it refers to a squeaky or scraping sound. As an intransitive verb it does not take an object. Like boom, bang, and swoosh, the word creak is an example of onomatopoeia because it tries to imitate the noise it describes.

As a noun or a verb, a creak is a grating type of sound. So, a rusty old gate might “creak” when you open and close it. Or you may hear a “creak” when the rusty old gate opens. Related words are creaks, creaked, creaking.

Examples:

Incorrect:

You can try to be quiet, but the floor will creek with each and every step.
I always know someone is here when I hear the creek of the back gate.
The kids liked to search for crayfish in the creak.

Correct:

You can try to be quiet, but the floor will creak with each and every step.
I always know someone is here when I hear the creak of the back gate.
The kids liked to search for crayfish in the creek.

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