Nearby words

  1. licht,
  2. lichtenstein,
  3. lichtenstein, roy,
  4. licit,
  5. licitly,
  6. lick and a promise, a,
  7. lick into shape,
  8. lick observatory,
  9. lick one's chops,
  10. lick one's wounds


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)

Related formslick·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for lick into shape



(tr) to pass the tongue over, esp in order to taste or consume
to flicker or move lightly over or round (something)the flames licked around the door
(tr) informal
  1. to defeat or vanquish
  2. to flog or thrash
  3. to be or do much better than
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
lick one's lips to anticipate or recall something with glee or relish
lick one's wounds to retire after a defeat or setback in order to husband one's resources
lick the boots of See boot 1 (def. 14)


an instance of passing the tongue over something
a small amounta lick of paint
Also called: salt lick a block of compressed salt or chemical matter provided for domestic animals to lick for medicinal and nutritional purposes
a place to which animals go to lick exposed natural deposits of salt
informal a hit; blow
slang a short musical phrase, usually on one instrument
informal speed; rate of movementhe was going at quite a lick when he hit it
a lick and a promise something hastily done, esp a hurried wash
Derived Formslicker, noun

Word Origin for lick

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

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 lick into shape
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with lick into shape

lick into shape

Also, whip into shape. Bring into satisfactory condition or appearance, as in The garden looks neglected, but Dad will soon lick it into shape, or We need at least three more practices before the team is whipped into shape. The expression using lick, which some think alludes to how bears treat their cubs, dates from about 1600. The variant alludes to the forceful use of a whip to accomplish something.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.