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[pik-it] /ˈpɪk ɪt/
a post, stake, pale, or peg that is used in a fence or barrier, to fasten down a tent, etc.
a person stationed by a union or the like outside a factory, store, mine, etc., in order to dissuade or prevent workers or customers from entering it during a strike.
a person engaged in any similar demonstration, as against a government's policies or actions, before an embassy, office building, construction project, etc.
Military. a soldier or detachment of soldiers placed on a line forward of a position to warn against an enemy advance.
Navy, Air Force. an aircraft or ship performing similar sentinel duty.
verb (used with object)
to enclose within a picket fence or stockade, as for protection, imprisonment, etc.:
to picket a lawn; to picket captives.
to fasten or tether to a picket.
to place pickets in front of or around (a factory, store, mine, embassy, etc.), as during a strike or demonstration.
  1. to guard, as with pickets.
  2. to post as a picket.
verb (used without object)
to stand or march as a picket.
Origin of picket
1680-90; < French piquet. See pike2, -et
Related forms
picketer, noun
counterpicket, noun, verb
unpicketed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for picketing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I was driving it home As a picketing peg for my horse, So that he should not roam.

    A Yeoman's Letters P. T. Ross
  • After picketing the horses, a sick sergeant's horse was handed over to me.

    A Yeoman's Letters P. T. Ross
  • picketing is illegal when accompanied by violence, threats, intimidation, and coercion.

  • picketing the horse as Pinkey had taught him, he put the cow on a rope also.

    The Dude Wrangler Caroline Lockhart
  • There were no visible signs of picketing and through one unshuttered window came a grateful glow of lamplight.

    When 'Bear Cat' Went Dry Charles Neville Buck
  • We remained at Nolensville nearly two months, picketing and scouting.

    Terry's Texas Rangers Leonidas B. Giles
  • A dusky beauty, the chief's daughter, insisted on picketing and feeding Arlington's horse.

    A Dream of Empire William Henry Venable
British Dictionary definitions for picketing


a pointed stake, post, or peg that is driven into the ground to support a fence, provide a marker for surveying, etc
an individual or group that stands outside an establishment to make a protest, to dissuade or prevent employees or clients from entering, etc
Also picquet. a small detachment of troops or warships positioned towards the enemy to give early warning of attack
to post or serve as pickets at (a factory, embassy, etc): let's go and picket the shop
to guard (a main body or place) by using or acting as a picket
(transitive) to fasten (a horse or other animal) to a picket
(transitive) to fence (an area, boundary, etc) with pickets
Derived Forms
picketer, noun
Word Origin
C18: from French piquet, from Old French piquer to prick; see pike²
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 picketing



1680s, "pointed stake (for defense against cavalry, etc.)," from French piquet "pointed stake," from piquer "to pierce" (see pike (n.2)). Sense of "troops posted to watch for enemy" first recorded 1761; that of "striking workers stationed to prevent others from entering a factory" is from 1867. Picket line is 1856 in the military sense, 1945 of labor strikes.


1745, "to enclose with pickets," from picket (n.). The sense in labor strikes, protests, etc., is attested from 1867. Related: Picketed; picketing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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