[ lik ]
See synonyms for lick on
verb (used with object)
  1. to pass the tongue over the surface of, as to moisten, taste, or eat (often followed by up, off, from, etc.): to lick a postage stamp; to lick an ice-cream cone.

  2. to make, or cause to become, by stroking with the tongue: to lick a spoon clean.

  1. (of waves, flames, etc.) to pass or play lightly over: The flame licked the dry timber.

  2. Informal.

    • to hit or beat, especially as a punishment; thrash; whip.

    • to overcome or defeat, as in a fight, game, or contest.

    • to outdo or surpass.

verb (used without object)
  1. to move quickly or lightly.

  1. a stroke of the tongue over something.

  2. as much as can be taken up by one stroke of the tongue.

  1. Informal.

    • a blow.

    • a brief, brisk burst of activity or energy.

    • a quick pace or clip; speed.

    • a small amount: I haven't done a lick of work all week.

  2. Usually licks. a critical or complaining remark.

  3. Usually licks. Jazz Slang. a musical phrase, as by a soloist in improvising.

Verb Phrases
  1. lick up, to lap up; devour greedily.

Idioms about lick

  1. last licks, a final turn or opportunity: We got in our last licks on the tennis court before the vacation ended.

  2. lick and a promise, a hasty and perfunctory performance in doing something: I didn't have time to clean thoroughly, so I gave the room a lick and a promise.

  1. lick ass, Slang: Vulgar. kiss (def. 18).

  2. lick into shape, Informal. to bring to completion or perfection through discipline, hard work, etc.: They needed another rehearsal to lick the production into shape.

  3. lick one's chops. chop3 (def. 7).

  4. lick one's wounds. wound1 (def. 6).

  5. lick the dust. dust (def. 24).

Origin of lick

before 1000; Middle English; Old English liccian, cognate with Old Saxon liccōn,Old High German leckōn; akin to Go bilaigon,Latin lingere,Greek leíchein to lick (up)

Other words for lick

Other words from lick

  • licker, noun

Words Nearby lick Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use lick in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for lick


/ (lɪk) /

  1. (tr) to pass the tongue over, esp in order to taste or consume

  2. to flicker or move lightly over or round (something): the flames licked around the door

  1. (tr) informal

    • to defeat or vanquish

    • to flog or thrash

    • to be or do much better than

  2. lick into shape to put into a satisfactory condition: from the former belief that bear cubs were born formless and had to be licked into shape by their mother

  3. lick one's lips to anticipate or recall something with glee or relish

  4. lick one's wounds to retire after a defeat or setback in order to husband one's resources

  5. lick the boots of See boot 1 (def. 14)

  1. an instance of passing the tongue over something

  2. a small amount: a lick of paint

  1. Also called: salt lick a block of compressed salt or chemical matter provided for domestic animals to lick for medicinal and nutritional purposes

  2. a place to which animals go to lick exposed natural deposits of salt

  3. informal a hit; blow

  4. slang a short musical phrase, usually on one instrument

  5. informal speed; rate of movement: he was going at quite a lick when he hit it

  6. a lick and a promise something hastily done, esp a hurried wash

Origin of lick

Old English liccian; related to Old High German leckon, Latin lingere, Greek leikhein

Derived forms of lick

  • licker, noun

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