1. a toady, a sycophant.
|Birth of Merlin (1662) III i: Peace you pernicious Rat [...] Away, suffer a gilded rascal, a low-bred despicable creeper, and insulting Toad, to spit poison’d venom in my face!|
2. a louse.
|Return from Parnassus Pt II V iv: Are rymes become such creepers now a days? Presumptuous louse, that doth good manners lack, Daring to creepe vpon Poet Furors back.|
|Musarum Deliciae (1817) 48: My father and mother, when they first join’d paunches, / Begot me between an old Pedlars haunches; / When grown to a creeper, I know how a pox I / Got to suck by chance of the bloud of his doxie.‘The Louse’s Peregrination’|
|Laugh and Be Fat 19: As he was thus searching, pretendly for the Creepers, up he starts.|
|Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: Creepers. Gentlemen’s companions, lice.|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Fun for the Million 491/2: Hast thou noe creepers within thy gay hose? [...] Art thou not lowsey, nor scabby?|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
3. a penny-a-line hack journalist.
|Tales of A Traveller (1850) 155: ‘Creeper! and pray what is that?’ said I. ‘Oh, sir, I see you are ignorant of the language of the craft; a creeper is one who furnishes the newspapers with paragraphs at so much a line. [...] We are paid at the rate of a penny a line.’.|
|DSUE (1984) 268/2: from ca. 1820; † by 1890.|
4. (Und./police) a sneak-thief, esp. when also a prostitute or her accomplice.
|in National Police Gazette 9 June 6: She acted as ‘creeper,’ explaining that the ‘creeper’ did not really creep, but walked to the victim’s clothes.|
|Chicago May (1929) 277: I rushed him hard. He hung up his clothes, almost over the head of the man I had planted in the room. The creeper got four hundred dollars, in the twinkle of an eye, and slid out.|
|(con. 1900s) Behind The Green Lights 72: In the sporting Negro quarter, the creepers frequently were armed with razors.|
|Man with the Golden Arm 197: Heartbroken bummies and the bitter rebels: afternoon prowlers and midnight creepers.|
|Walk on the Wild Side 93: There were creepers and kleptoes and zanies and dipsos.|
|Howard Street 38: Billy had been a creeper at one time, who made his living by breaking into homes and apartments.|
|Lively Commerce 27: Some prostitutes have associates (‘creepers’). [...] The ‘creeper’ quietly goes through the client’s trousers and takes his money.|
|Signs of Crime 201: Solo creeper Sneak thief operating absolutely alone.|
|Dict. of Invective (1991) 102: Such a creeper often is a prostitute who supplements her income by creeping out from beneath a bed and stealing a customer’s money.|
|Bad Guys 17: This is Howard talking, jailhouse lawyer [...] and former creeper.|
|Guardian 23 Jan. 6: ‘Creepers,’ highly skilled burglars who will go to great lengths to avoid confrontation.|
|Viva La Madness 280: Some sneak thief [...] some creeper.|
5. (orig. US black) an adulterous or cheating lover.
|Journal of Amer. Folklore 24 354: The ‘creeper’ watches his chance to get admittance into a home, unknown to the husband.|
|Negro and His Songs (1964) 190: Buddy, stop an’ let me tell you / What yo’ woman’ll do: / She have ’nuther man in, play sick on you. / She got all-night creeper, buddy, / An’ you can’t git in.|
|Nigger Heaven 213: Haven’t you heard of the famous Creeper? [...] Lives off women, a true Eastman. He’s the sheik of the dives.|
|AS VII:1 27: creeper V. n. A man who invades another’s marital rights.‘Vocab. of the Amer. Negro’ in|
|Man with the Golden Arm 24: I would even let that creeper take a hand at the table.|
|Lex. Black Eng. 36: The man doing the cuckolding may be a creeper, a term which occurs frequently in many contexts.|
|Corner (1998) 117: Tae is a creeper; he’s been flirting with Tyreeka since the day she moved into the neighborhood.|
6. (US black) a police officer.
|Black Metropolis 568: I wisht they’da let them creepers take you to the station!|
|Lore and Lang. of Schoolchildren (1977) 395: Nicknames current among boys [...] Creeper, Crook Catcher.|
7. a burglary committed when the owners are at home.
|in Living Dangerously 188: I preferred to do creepers — burglaries when people are in the house.|
8. see creep joint n. (3)
(US) an opium den where the semi-conscious sleepers are robbed of their possessions.
|Tea for a Viper (cited in Spears 1986).|
|‘Jargon of Marihuana Addicts’ in AS XV:3 Oct. 336/2: creeper joint. A place where semi-conscious smokers are robbed.|