"lodging for ships; sheltered recess in a coastline," early 12c., a specialized sense of Middle English herberwe "temporary dwelling place, quarters, lodgings; an inn; the camp of an army in the field," probably from Old English here-beorg (West Saxon), *here-berg (Anglian) "lodgings, quarters," from Proto-Germanic compound *harja-bergaz "shelter, lodgings," from *heri "army, host" (see harry (v.)) + *burzjan- "protection, shelter" (from PIE root *bhergh- (1) "to hide, protect"). Perhaps modeled on Old Norse herbergi "room, lodgings, quarters."
mid-15c., creke "narrow inlet in a coastline," altered from kryk (early 13c.; in place names from 12c.), probably from Old Norse kriki "corner, nook," perhaps influenced by Anglo-French crique, itself from a Scandinavian source via Norman. Perhaps ultimately related to crook and with an original notion of "full of bends and turns" (compare dialectal Swedish krik "corner, bend; creek, cove").
Extended to "inlet or short arm of a river" by 1570s, which probably led to use for "small stream, brook" in American English (1620s). In U.S. commonly pronounced and formerly sometimes spelled crick. Also used there and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand for "branch of a main river," possibly from explorers moving up main rivers and seeing and noting mouths of tributaries without knowing they often were extensive rivers of their own.
Slang phrase up the creek "in trouble" (often especially "pregnant") is attested by 1941, perhaps originally armed forces slang for "lost while on patrol," or perhaps a cleaned-up version of the older up shit creek in the same sense.
late 14c., "to skirt, to go around the sides, to go along the border" of something (as a ship does the coastline), from Anglo-French costien, from the French source of coast (n.).
The meaning "sled downhill," first attested 1834 in American English, is a separate borrowing or a new development from the noun. In bicycle-riding, "descend a hill with the feet off the pedals," from 1879. Of motor vehicles, "to move without thrust from the engine," from 1896; figurative use, of persons, "not to exert oneself," by 1934. Related: Coasted; coasting.
"Coasting" consists in throwing the legs up over the handles and allowing the bicycle to rush of its own impetus down hill. It can only be done with safety where the road is perfectly smooth, hard, and free from obstructions; but, under such conditions, bicycle coasting affords one of the most glorious and exhilarating of sensations, and, next to ballooning, its motion most nearly resembles the flight of a bird. [Harper's Weekly, Dec. 20, 1879]
The reckless coasting down the long hills on the route was scarcely more defensible. Speeds of 25 to 30 miles an hour were reached in some instances. The common road is not the proper place for such exhibitions, especially in populous centres. The risk is altogether too great, both for occupants of the vehicle and for other frequenters of the highway. [account of an automobile race on the streets of New York in The Horseless Age, June 1896]