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[dek] /dɛk/
  1. a floorlike surface wholly or partially occupying one level of a hull, superstructure, or deckhouse, generally cambered, and often serving as a member for strengthening the structure of a vessel.
  2. the space between such a surface and the next such surface above:
    Our stateroom was on B deck.
any open platform suggesting an exposed deck of a ship.
an open, unroofed porch or platform extending from a house or other building.
Compare sun deck.
any level, tier, or vertical section, as of a structure or machine.
flight deck (def 2).
a flat or nearly flat watertight surface, as at the top of a French roof.
a floor or roof surface composed of decking units.
Meteorology. cloud deck. See cloud layer.
Slang. a small packet of a narcotic, especially heroin.
a pack of playing cards.
Printing. bank3 (def 8).
Also called rear deck. the cover of a space behind the backseat of an automobile or the space itself.
Library Science. a level of book shelving and associated facilities in the stacks of a library, as one of a series of floors or tiers.
Civil Engineering. (of a bridge truss) having a deck or floor upon or above the structure.
Compare through (def 22).
verb (used with object)
to clothe or attire (people) or array (rooms, houses, etc.) in something ornamental or decorative (often followed by out):
We were all decked out in our Sunday best. The church was decked with holly for the holiday season.
to furnish with a deck.
Informal. to knock down; floor:
The champion decked the challenger in the first round.
clear the decks,
  1. to prepare for combat, as by removing all unnecessary gear.
  2. to prepare for some activity or work, as by getting rid of hindrances.
hit the deck, Slang.
  1. Nautical. to rise from bed.
  2. to fall, drop, or be knocked to the ground or floor.
on deck,
  1. Baseball. next at bat; waiting one's turn to bat.
  2. Informal. next in line; coming up; scheduled.
  3. Informal. prepared to act or work; ready.
play with / have a full deck, Slang. to be sane, rational, or reasonably intelligent:
Whoever dreamed up this scheme wasn't playing with a full deck.
stack the deck. stack (def 24).
Origin of deck
late Middle English
1425-75; (noun) late Middle English dekke material for covering < Middle Dutch dec covering, roof; (v.) < Dutch dekken to cover; cognate with German decken; cf. thatch
Related forms
undecked, adjective
17. bedeck, garnish, trim, bedizen, adorn, embellish; dress. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for deck
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I'll bet he wa'n't sorry when Sadie shows up on deck and waves for us to come on.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • For perhaps an hour he remained on deck watching the strange vessel.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • This number I reported to the first lieutenant, down on deck.

    A Middy of the King Harry Collingwood
  • They were simply aghast, and Clif stood fairly rooted to the deck.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • A scuttle in the deck of a steamer to admit fuel for the engine.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
British Dictionary definitions for deck


(nautical) any of various platforms built into a vessel: a promenade deck, the poop deck
a similar floor or platform, as in a bus
  1. the horizontal platform that supports the turntable and pick-up of a record player
  2. See tape deck
(mainly US) a pack of playing cards
(computing, obsolete) Also called pack. a collection of punched cards relevant to a particular program
a raised wooden platform built in a garden to provide a seating area
(informal) clear the decks, to prepare for action, as by removing obstacles from a field of activity or combat
(informal) hit the deck
  1. to fall to the floor or ground, esp in order to avoid injury
  2. to prepare for action
  3. to get out of bed
verb (transitive)
(often foll by out) to dress or decorate
to build a deck on (a vessel)
(slang) to knock (a person) to the floor or ground
See also deck over
Derived Forms
decker, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Middle Dutch dec a covering; related to thatch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for deck

"covering over part of a ship," mid-15c., perhaps a shortening of Middle Low German verdeck (or a related North Sea Germanic word), a nautical word, from ver- "fore" + decken "to cover, put under roof," from Proto-Germanic *thackjam (related to thatch, q.v.).

Sense extended early in English from "covering" to "platform of a ship." "Pack of cards" is 1590s, perhaps because they were stacked like decks of a ship. Deck chair (1884) so called because they were used on ocean liners. Tape deck (1949) is in reference to the flat surface of old reel-to-reel tape recorders.


"adorn" (as in deck the halls), early 15c., from Middle Dutch dekken "to cover," from the same Germanic root as deck (n.). Meaning "to cover" is from 1510s in English. Replaced Old English þeccan. Related: Decked; decking.

"knock down," c.1953, probably from deck (n.) on the notion of laying someone out on the deck. Related: Decked; decking.


"adorn" (as in deck the halls), early 15c., from Middle Dutch dekken "to cover," from the same Germanic root as deck (n.). Meaning "to cover" is from 1510s in English. Replaced Old English þeccan. Related: Decked; decking.


"knock down," c.1953, probably from deck (n.) on the notion of laying someone out on the deck. Related: Decked; decking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for deck



  1. The roof of a railroad car (1853+)
  2. A package of narcotics; portion of a drug, esp three grains of heroin; bag: a deck of nose candy for sale (1922+ Narcotics)
  3. A package of cigarettes (1940s+)
  4. A skateboard (1990s+ Skateboarders)


To knock someone down, esp with the fist; floor: Remember that guy I decked in the restaurant? (1940s+)

Related Terms

cold deck, deal someone a poor deck, hit the deck, on deck, wet deck

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with deck


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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