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  1. material for wicks.

Origin of wicking

First recorded in 1840–50; wick1 + -ing1


  1. a bundle or loose twist or braid of soft threads, or a woven strip or tube, as of cotton or asbestos, which in a candle, lamp, oil stove, cigarette lighter, or the like, serves to draw up the melted tallow or wax or the oil or other flammable liquid to be burned.
verb (used with object)
  1. to draw off (liquid) by capillary action.

Origin of wick1

before 1000; Middle English wicke, weke, Old English wice, wēoc(e); cognate with Middle Dutch wiecke, Middle Low German wêke, Old High German wiohha lint, wick (German Wieke lint); akin to Sanskrit vāgura noose
Related formswick·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wicking

Historical Examples

  • A piece of wicking is drawn into the tube so that the upper end is within 1/4 in.

    The Boy Mechanic, Book 2


  • Tie a slip knot in the end of the wicking and slip it over one of the corner nails.

    Handicraft for Girls

    Idabelle McGlauflin

  • The men worked by the light of torches, which were often merely catsup jugs with wicking in the necks.

    The Blazed Trail

    Stewart Edward White

  • These can then be caulked with oakum, cotton-batting, or wicking, or something of that nature.

    Woodworking for Beginners

    Charles Gardner Wheeler

  • Pass the wicking back and forth around the nails first on one side and then the other.

    Handicraft for Girls

    Idabelle McGlauflin

British Dictionary definitions for wicking


  1. acting to move moisture by capillary action from the inside to the surfacewicking fabric


  1. a cord or band of loosely twisted or woven fibres, as in a candle, cigarette lighter, etc, that supplies fuel to a flame by capillary action
  2. get on someone's wick British slang to cause irritation to a person
Derived Formswicking, noun

Word Origin

Old English weoce; related to Old High German wioh, Middle Dutch wēke (Dutch wiek)


  1. archaic a village or hamlet

Word Origin

Old English wīc; related to -wich in place names, Latin vīcus, Greek oîkos


adjective Northern English dialect
  1. lively or active
  2. alive or crawlinga dog wick with fleas

Word Origin

dialect variant of quick alive


  1. a town in N Scotland, in Highland, at the head of Wick Bay (an inlet of the North Sea). Pop: 7333 (2001)
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

Word Origin and History for wicking



"bundle of fiber in a lamp or candle," Old English weoce, from West Germanic *weukon (cf. Middle Dutch wieke, Dutch wiek, Old High German wiohha, German Wieche), of unknown origin, with no known cognates beyond Germanic. To dip one's wick "engage in sexual intercourse" (in reference to males) is recorded from 1958, perhaps from Hampton Wick, rhyming slang for "prick," which would connect it rather to wick (n.2).



"dairy farm," now surviving, if at all, as a localism in East Anglia or Essex, it was once the common Old English wic "dwelling place, lodging, abode," then coming to mean "village, hamlet, town," and later "dairy farm" (e.g. Gatwick "Goat-farm"). Common in this latter sense 13c.-14c. The word is a general Germanic borrowing from Latin vicus "group of dwellings, village; a block of houses, a street, a group of streets forming an administrative unit" (see vicinity). Cf. Old High German wih "village," German Weichbild "municipal area," Dutch wijk "quarter, district," Old Frisian wik, Old Saxon wic "village."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper