Green’s Dictionary of Slang

creek n.

In phrases

up the creek (without a paddle) (also up the creek in a paper boat, up snot river without a paddle) [euph. for up shit(’s) creek under shit creek n.]

1. in trouble, facing problems; thus (Aus.) pregnant out of wedlock.

[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 306: ‘Let’s you and me beat it to Paris or Havana or somewheres.’ [...] ‘Then we would be up the creek. You can be extradited for grand larceny.’.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 618: He’s up the creek, and he doesn’t make any too much peddling insurance.
[US]J. Weidman I Can Get It For You Wholesale 301: And if we get stuck with all those dresses, then you guys’ll be up the creek for good.
[US]C. Willingham End as a Man (1952) 193: Because of you we’re up Snot River without a paddle.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 80: We gotta be natural, and if we aren’t [...] then we’re up the creek.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 76: Then we’d all be up the creek in a paper boat.
[US]J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye (1958) 32: I’ll be up the creek if I don’t get the goddam thing in by Monday.
[US]L. Uris Battle Cry (1964) 218: We’ll all be up the creek without a paddle.
[UK]W. Hall Long and the Short and the Tall Act I: Talk about up the creek without a paddle.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 229: My shtoom mate would be right up the creek.
[Aus]A. Buzo Norm and Ahmed (1973) 16: But now she’s gone and where am I? Up the creek without a paddle!
[UK]H.E. Bates A Little of What You Fancy (1985) 516: He’d be down the drain any day now. Either that or up the ruddy creek.
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 154: I will get in terribel Duch – and be up the creek, with no paddel what-so-ever.
[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 186: ‘To be left up the creek without a paddle’ which is sometimes used to describe a person of either sex or any age who is in a dilemma.
[US]Maledicta IX 60: Sometimes the British clean up shit on a shingle as sick on a shingle, and up shit creek without a paddle becomes up the creek without a paddle. [...] up the Dutch shit in trouble. [...] up the Mokau up the creek or up the boohai.
[UK]A. Higgins ‘The Bird I Fancied’ in Helsingør Station and Other Departures 203: The bloody lifts are all up the creek.
[UK]Guardian G2 21 June 7: She knows if her primary carer goes round the twist, she is up the creek.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] ‘[H]e’s up the creek now I’ve retired and Rochelle’s running the business’.

2. mad, crazy.

[UK]H. Pinter Caretaker Act III: You’re up the creek! You’re half off!
[US](con. 1950s) E. White My Lives 112: If your pa knew you were out suckin’ peter you’d be up the crick.