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or stick-up

[stik-uhp] /ˈstɪkˌʌp/
noun, Informal.
a holdup; robbery.
Origin of stickup
First recorded in 1855-60; noun use of verb phrase stick up


[stik] /stɪk/
verb (used with object), stuck, sticking.
to pierce or puncture with something pointed, as a pin, dagger, or spear; stab:
to stick one's finger with a needle.
to kill by this means:
to stick a pig.
to thrust (something pointed) in, into, through, etc.:
to stick a needle into a pincushion.
to fasten in position by thrusting a point or end into something:
to stick a peg in a pegboard.
to fasten in position by or as if by something thrust through:
to stick a painting on the wall.
to put on or hold with something pointed; impale:
to stick a marshmallow on a fork.
to decorate or furnish with things piercing the surface:
to stick a cushion full of pins.
to furnish or adorn with things attached or set here and there:
to stick shelves full of knickknacks.
to place upon a stick or pin for exhibit:
to stick butterflies.
to thrust or poke into a place or position indicated:
to stick one's head out of the window.
to place or set in a specified position; put:
Stick the chair in the corner.
to fasten or attach by causing to adhere:
to stick a stamp on a letter.
to bring to a standstill; render unable to proceed or go back (usually used in the passive):
The car was stuck in the mud.
Carpentry. to start (a nail).
Ceramics. to join (pieces of partially hardened clay) together, using slip as an adhesive.
Chiefly British Informal. to tolerate; endure:
He couldn't stick the job more than three days.
to confuse or puzzle; bewilder; perplex; nonplus:
He was stuck by the very first problem on the test.
Informal. to impose something disagreeable upon (a person or persons), as a large bill or a difficult task:
The committee persistently stuck him with fund collection.
Informal. to cheat.
Slang: Often Vulgar. to go to hell with: often used imperatively.
verb (used without object), stuck, sticking.
to have the point piercing or embedded in something:
The arrow stuck in the tree.
to remain attached by adhesion.
to hold, cleave, or cling:
The young rider stuck to the back of his terrified horse.
to remain persistently or permanently:
a fact that sticks in the mind.
to remain firm, as in resolution, opinion, statement, or attachment; hold faithfully, as to a promise or bargain.
to keep or remain steadily or unremittingly, as to a task, undertaking, or the like:
to stick to a job until it is finished.
to become fastened, hindered, checked, or stationary by some obstruction:
Her zipper stuck halfway up.
to be at a standstill, as from difficulties:
I'm stuck on this problem.
to be embarrassed or puzzled; hesitate or scruple (usually followed by at).
to be thrust or placed so as to extend, project, or protrude (usually followed by through, from, out, up, etc.).
a thrust with a pointed instrument; stab.
a stoppage or standstill.
something causing delay or difficulty.
the quality of adhering or of causing things to adhere.
something causing adhesion.
Verb phrases
stick around, Informal. to wait in the vicinity; linger:
If you had stuck around, you'd have seen the fireworks.
stick by/to, to maintain one's attachment or loyalty to; remain faithful to:
They vowed to stick by one another no matter what happened.
stick out, to extend; protrude:
Stick out your tongue. Your shirttail is sticking out.
stick up, Informal. to rob, especially at gunpoint:
A lone gunman stuck up the gas station.
stick up for, to speak in favor of; come to the defense of; support:
She always sticks up for him, even though he doesn't deserve it.
stick it, Slang: Often Vulgar. shove1 (def 7).
stick it to (someone), Slang. to take advantage of; treat unfairly.
stick it out, to endure something patiently to the end or its completion:
It was a long, dusty trip but we stuck it out.
stick it up your / one's ass, Slang: Vulgar. shove1 (def 8).
stick one's neck out. neck (def 23).
stick to one's guns. gun1 (def 17).
stick to the / one's ribs, to be substantial and nourishing, as a hearty meal:
Hot cereal sticks to your ribs on those cold winter mornings.
before 900; Middle English stiken, Old English stician to pierce, thrust; akin to German stechen to sting, Latin -stīg- in instīgāre (see instigate), Greek stízein (see stigma)
Related forms
stickable, adjective
stickability, noun
restickable, adjective
1. penetrate, spear. 6. transfix. 9. pin. 12. glue, cement, paste. 22. Stick, adhere, cohere mean to cling to or be tightly attached to something. Adhere implies that one kind of material clings tenaciously to another; cohere adds the idea that a thing is attracted to and held by something like itself: Particles of sealing wax cohere and form a mass that will adhere to tin. Stick, a more colloquial and general term, is used particularly when a third kind of material is involved: A gummed label will stick to a package. 29. stickle, waver, doubt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for stick up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She could not aspire to be one of them, but she could be loyal, she could "stick up" for them.

    Pee-wee Harris Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • You stick up for the people, Mr. Dodge, or to the old category?

    Homeward Bound James Fenimore Cooper
  • You'll be paid in the morning, and you can stick up "To Let" as soon as you like.

    Despair's Last Journey David Christie Murray
  • I know you are right; I really will try, if you stick up for me.

    Follow My leader Talbot Baines Reed
  • For Tweddle had suddenly thrust his stick up the trap and stopped the cab.

    The Tinted Venus F. Anstey
  • But I'm always going to stick up for winter, that's one sure thing.

    Roy Blakeley's Camp on Wheels Percy Keese Fitzhugh
British Dictionary definitions for stick up


a small thin branch of a tree
  1. any long thin piece of wood
  2. such a piece of wood having a characteristic shape for a special purpose: a walking stick, a hockey stick
  3. a baton, wand, staff, or rod
an object or piece shaped like a stick: a stick of celery, a stick of dynamite
(informal) the lever used to change gear in a motor vehicle
(nautical) a mast or yard
(printing) See composing stick
  1. a group of bombs arranged to fall at intervals across a target
  2. a number of paratroops jumping in sequence
  1. verbal abuse, criticism: I got some stick for that blunder
  2. physical power, force (esp in the phrase give it some stick)
(usually pl) a piece of furniture: these few sticks are all I have
(pl) (informal) a rural area considered remote or backward (esp in the phrase in the sticks)
(pl) (Canadian W coast & Northwestern Canadian, informal) the wooded interior part of the country
(pl) (hockey) a declaration made by the umpire if a player's stick is above the shoulders
(pl) goalposts
(US, obsolete) a cannabis cigarette
a means of coercion
(informal) a dull boring person
(usually preceded by old) (informal) a familiar name for a person: not a bad old stick
in a cleft stick, in a difficult position
wrong end of the stick, a complete misunderstanding of a situation, explanation, etc
verb sticks, sticking, sticked
to support (a plant) with sticks; stake
Word Origin
Old English sticca; related to Old Norse stikka, Old High German stecca


verb sticks, sticking, stuck
(transitive) to pierce or stab with or as if with something pointed
to thrust or push (a sharp or pointed object) or (of a sharp or pointed object) to be pushed into or through another object
(transitive) to fasten in position by pushing or forcing a point into something: to stick a peg in a hole
(transitive) to fasten in position by or as if by pins, nails, etc: to stick a picture on the wall
(transitive) to transfix or impale on a pointed object
(transitive) to cover with objects piercing or set in the surface
when intr, foll by out, up, through, etc. to put forward or be put forward; protrude or cause to protrude: to stick one's head out of the window
(transitive) (informal) to place or put in a specified position: stick your coat on this chair
to fasten or be fastened by or as if by an adhesive substance: stick the pages together, they won't stick
(transitive) (informal) to cause to become sticky
(when transitive, usually passive) to come or cause to come to a standstill: we were stuck for hours in a traffic jam, the wheels stuck
(intransitive) to remain for a long time: the memory sticks in my mind
(transitive) (slang, mainly Brit) to tolerate; abide: I can't stick that man
(intransitive) to be reluctant
(transitive; usually passive) (informal) to cause to be at a loss; baffle, puzzle, or confuse: I was totally stuck for an answer
(transitive) (slang) to force or impose something unpleasant on: they stuck me with the bill for lunch
(transitive) to kill by piercing or stabbing
(informal) stick in one's throat, stick in one's craw, to be difficult, or against one's conscience, for one to accept, utter, or believe
stick one's nose into, See nose (sense 17)
(informal) stick to the ribs, (of food) to be hearty and satisfying
the state or condition of adhering
(informal) a substance causing adhesion
(obsolete) something that causes delay or stoppage
Word Origin
Old English stician; related to Old High German stehhan to sting, Old Norse steikja to roast on a spit
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 stick up

1846, "to rob someone at gunpoint," from stick (v.). Noun stickup in this sense is first recorded 1887. Stick up for "defend" is attested from 1837.



Old English sticca "rod, twig, spoon," from Proto-Germanic *stikkon- "pierce, prick" (cf. Old Norse stik, Old High German stehho, German Stecken "stick, staff"), from PIE *steig- "to stick; pointed" (see stick (v.)). Meaning "staff used in a game" is from 1670s (originally billiards); meaning "manual gearshift lever" first recorded 1914. Stick-ball is attested from 1824. Alliterative connection of sticks and stones is recorded from mid-15c.



Old English stician "to pierce, stab," also "to remain embedded, be fastened," from Proto-Germanic *stik- "pierce, prick, be sharp" (cf. Old Saxon stekan, Old Frisian steka, Dutch stecken, Old High German stehhan, German stechen "to stab, prick"), from PIE *steig- (cf. Latin in-stigare "to goad;" Greek stizein "to prick, puncture," stigma "mark made by a pointed instrument;" Old Persian tigra- "sharp, pointed;" Avestan tighri- "arrow;" Lithuanian stingu "to remain in place;" Russian stegati "to quilt").

Figurative sense of "to remain permanently in mind" is attested from c.1300. Transitive sense of "to fasten (something) in place" is attested from late 13c. Stick out "project" is recorded from 1560s. Slang stick around "remain" is from 1912; stick it as a rude bit of advice is first recorded 1922.

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

stick up

verb phrase

To rob, esp at gunpoint; hold up: being ''stuck up'' by highwaymen/ They're liable to go out and stick up a bank if they owe you

[1846+; apparently fr the command stick 'em up, ''hold up your hands'']



  1. A baseball bat (1868+ Baseball)
  2. A baton or rod of office, now esp a conductor's baton (1688+)
  3. A golf club: The golf dudes had their bag of sticks (1857+)
  4. A billiard cue: I lived off the stick three months (1674+)
  5. The mast of a ship or boat: The gale blew the sticks right out of her (1802+)
  6. A control lever or handle; joy-stick (1914+)
  7. (also stick shift) A manual gearshift lever, esp one mounted on the floor (1971+)
  8. A slide rule; slipstick (1920s+)
  9. A ski pole (1961+)
  10. A clarinet; licorice stick (1920+ Jazz musicians)
  11. A marijuana cigarette; joint, stick of gage, stick of tea: Marijuana was easy to get, 25 cents a ''stick'' (1938+ Narcotics)
  12. A tall, thin person; beanpole (1940s+)
  13. A stiff, awkward person; an overformal person (1800+)
  14. A dull person; stick in the mud (1733+)
  15. A casino croupier (1940s+ Gambling)
  16. An assistant who poses as an ordinary innocent person; shill: The man who won the $246 was a shill, sometimes referred to as a ''stick''/ One operator, known as a ''stall'' or ''stick,'' distracts or frames the sucker in some way (1926+ Carnival & underworld)


To cheat; swindle; esp, to overcharge; shaft: runs the Bowie garage, routinely sticking what customers come his way (1699+)

Related Terms

boom sticks, carry the stick, dipshit, dope stick, fire stick, get on the stick, gob-stick, have a broom up one's ass, jive stick, kick stick, know what one can do with something, make something stick, shitstick, swizzle-stick, tea-stick, tell someone what to do with something



  1. An armed robbery; holdup: a robbery or a ''stick-up'' (1887+)
  2. An armed robber: Mallory looked at the dark stick-up (1905+)
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 stick up

stick up

Project from a surface, as in That little cowlick of his sticks up no matter what you do. [ Early 1400s ]
Put up a poster or notice, as in Will you stick up this announcement on the bulletin board? [ Late 1700s ]
Rob, especially at gunpoint, as in The gang concentrated on sticking up liquor stores and gas stations. This usage, dating from the mid-1800s, gave rise to the colloquial phrase, stick 'em up, a robber's order to a victim to raise his or her hands above the head. [ 1930s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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