Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Mar 12 14:42:13 UTC 2010

At 3/12/2010 08:43 AM, Amy West wrote:
>I've been noticing a term that my kids here in Worcester and their
>cohorts (13 and 10 years old respectively) have been using and also
>spotted in one of my student's (18-year-old freshman) papers:
>They use "creeper" to mean what I would call a "creep," as in a
>creepy, scary, or shady person. "He's a creeper."
>I have not done my due diligence to see how widespread this is. It's
>just a productive use of the -er ending to form a noun from a verb.
>For them a "creeper" is someone who "creeps" around, skulking around.
>There's a sense of menace in their use of "creeper" (and frankly in
>my own use of "creep") that isn't captured by MW C11's definition of
>"creep" (n) as "an unpleasant or obnoxious person."

I don't suppose it comes from the Rathbone/Bruce "The Pearl of Death"
Sherlock Holmes film (1944), in which a sidekick of the villains
brutally murders several victims by sneaking up on them and breaking
their backs.  He is called "the Hoxton Creeper" (played by Rondo
Hatton).  Although the film does appear on late night TV periodically.

>[The context where I first learned the use: I was pointing out
>someone at an SF con who I wanted them to avoid because he has
>sexually harassed young women. "Oh, he's a creeper" was their
>response, meaning if I had just said "Avoid that guy: he's a creeper"
>I could have been more direct.]

 From another common verb for such a man, one wouldn't call him a
"stalk".  I think the use of "creeper" may come from this -- someone
who harasses women is a "creeper" after them.


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