Difference Between Creek and Stream

Main Difference – Creek vs Stream

Both Creeks and Streams are flowing bodies of water, confined within a bed and stream banks. The usage of these two words differs according to their characteristics and geographical locations. The term stream can refer to any body of flowing water. Streams vary in size from streamlets to brooks, creeks, and rivers. However, a stream is generally considered to be smaller than a river. A creek is a small body of flowing water. Since stream refers to any flowing body of water, a creek is a type of stream.  Therefore, all creeks can be termed as streams, but not all streams are creeks. This can be considered as the main difference between creek and stream.

What is a Creek

A creek can be defined as a small body of flowing water. However, the meaning of the term ‘creek’ varies in different geographical location. In British English, Creek refers to a narrow, sheltered waterway, particularly an inlet in a shoreline or channel in a marsh. In North America, Australia, and New Zeland a creek is a small or a medium size stream or a tributary of a river. Creeks are generally shallow in depth and flow into a large body of water. Though creeks are said to be smaller than rivers, some creeks are larger than rivers.

Difference Between Creek and Stream

Cayoosh Creek in British Columbia, Canada

What is a Stream

The term stream can be used to refer any flowing body of water. United States Board on Geographical Names defines a stream as a linear flowing body of water flowing on the Earth’s surface. According to this definition, many generic terms including brook, creek and river falls under the category of streams. Creek, as mentioned above, can refer to either a small-to-medium size stream or a narrow inlet to the sea. Brook is a small stream than a creek, especially one that is fed by a spring or seep. A river is a large natural stream.

Streams derive their water from the rain, melting snow, ice, and groundwater. Streams can take different shapes depending on the landscape through which they flow. For examples, streams turn into waterfalls in the mountainous areas. The Amazon river in South America can be considered as the longest stream in the world.

Main Difference - Creek vs Stream

Shallow Stream in Rock Hill, NY

Difference Between Creek and Stream


Creek can be either a small or a medium size stream or an inlet to the sea.

Stream is a linear flowing body of water flowing on the Earth’s surface.


Creek is a type of stream.

Stream can refer to rivers, brooks, creeks, rills, streamlets, etc.

Type of Fluid

Creek is a flowing body of water.

Stream is any body of flowing fluid. It can be water, lava, wind, etc.Difference Between Creek and Stream - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Cayoosh-creek” by Strontium87 – Own work. via

“Shallow Stream in Rock Hill, NY” by Eric Richards – Own work. via

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