Up The Creek (Without a Paddle)

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Up a Creek
Up Shit Creek

Meaning of Idiom Up the Creek (Without a Paddle)

To be up the creek means to be in trouble, in a serious predicament, or an awkward position. 1,2,3

Up the Creek Without a Paddle Idiom Video Presentation

Up the Creek Without a Paddle Idiom Video Presentation


The original form of this idiom is up the creek.

Up the creek without a paddle is a slighly humurous and intensified variant of the idiom.

Examples Of Use

"If my check doesn't come by tomorrow I'll be up the creek. The rent is due on Friday."

"My car broke down in the middle of nowhere and my phone had no signal. I was up the creek without a paddle."


This idiom has its origin in 20th century military slang, referring to being lost, as in when on patrol, etc., calling to mind someone in a canoe being stranded in a river with no way to paddle. 3

The vulgar variant up shit creek intensifies the expression by conjuring up a creek filled with feces instead of water.

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
3. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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