"a creeping motion," 1818, from creep (v.). Meaning "despicable person" is 1935, American English slang, perhaps from earlier sense of "sneak thief" (1914). Creeper "a gilded rascal" is recorded from c. 1600, and the word also was used of certain classes of thieves, especially those who robbed customers in brothels. The creeps "a feeling of dread or revulsion" first attested 1849, in Dickens.
Old English creopan "to creep" (class II strong verb; past tense creap, past participle cropen), from Proto-Germanic *kreupan (source also of Old Frisian kriapa, Middle Dutch crupen, Old Norse krjupa "to creep"), perhaps from a PIE root *g(e)r- "crooked" [Watkins]. Related: Crept; creeping.
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