verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- to commit unalterably: to lock in the nomination of the party's candidates.
- (of an investor) to be unable or unwilling to sell or shift securities.
- to keep out by or as if by a lock.
- to subject (employees) to a lockout.
- to imprison for a crime.
- Printing.to make (type) immovable in a chase by securing the quoins.
- to fasten or secure with a lock or locks.
- to lock the doors of a house, automobile, etc.
- to fasten or fix firmly, as by engaging parts.
Origin of lock1
- a section of a canal or river that may be closed off by gates to control the water level and the raising and lowering of vessels that pass through it
- (as modifier)a lock gate
Word Origin for lock
Word Origin for lock
"means of fastening," Old English loc "bolt, fastening; barrier, enclosure," from Proto-Germanic *lukan (cf. Old Norse lok "fastening, lock," Gothic usluks "opening," Old High German loh "dungeon," German Loch "opening, hole," Dutch luik "shutter, trapdoor"). "The great diversity of meaning in the Teut. words seems to indicate two or more independent but formally identical substantival formations from the root."
The Old English sense "barrier, enclosure" led to the specific meaning "barrier on a river" (c.1300), and the more specific sense "gate and sluice system on a water channel used as a means of raising and lowering boats" (1570s). Wrestling sense is from c.1600. Phrase under lock and key attested from early 14c.
"tress of hair," Old English locc "lock of hair, curl," from Proto-Germanic *lukkoz (cf. Old Norse lokkr, Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch lok, Old High German loc, German Locke "lock of hair"), from PIE *lugnos-, perhaps related to Greek lygos "pliant twig, withe," Lithuanian lugnas "flexible."
"to fasten with a lock," c.1300, from Old English lucan "to lock, to close" (class II strong verb; past tense leac, past participle locen), from the same root as lock (n.1). Cognate with Old Frisian luka "to close," Old Saxon lukan, Old High German luhhan, Old Norse luka, Gothic galukan. Meaning "to embrace closely" is from 1610s. Related: Locked; locking. Slang lock horns "fight" is from 1839.
In addition to the idioms beginning with lock
- lock horns
- lock in
- lock out
- lock the barn door after the horse has bolted
- lock up
- under lock and key