Does 'gives me the creeps' mean that someone/something scares you? Or does it mean something more than just to be scared?

1 Answer 1


To "give [somebody] the creeps" doesn't necessarily imply being scared as much as it implies unease. Think the uncanny valley, or feeling that there's some unspoken threat or tension in a situation.

If someone "gives you the creeps", it usually means you don't have any concrete evidence that they are a danger to you, but you feel uncomfortable around them, as if there is some unknown threat or danger.

Side note: to be idiomatic, one has to phrase it as "gives me the creeps" (ie. in the plural).

  • Thank you for the answer. So we say it when we're uncomfortable or feel uneasy. If an old disfigured woman is staring at me for a long time can I say 'she gives me the creeps' even though I'm not scared since she's obvious old and weak and doesn't have any weapon on her?
    – Ashraf
    Nov 21, 2020 at 20:53
  • 1
    @Ashraf that would be a perfect example of when this phrase might be used, yes!
    – MarielS
    Nov 21, 2020 at 21:06
  • Would it be wrong to use it when you're genuinely afraid of something?
    – Ashraf
    Nov 28, 2020 at 19:27
  • 1
    @Ashraf It's also ok to use it if you're genuinely afraid of something, the phrase is mostly just agnostic of that rather than against it :-)
    – Chris Down
    Dec 25, 2020 at 16:37

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