verb (used without object)
verb (used with object)
- necessity is the mother of invention,
- neck and neck,
- neck cord,
- neck of the woods,
- neck sweetbread,
- to suffer punishment or loss: The trend is to consolidation and small businesses are getting it in the neck.
- to be rejected or dismissed: The employees got it in the neck when the company moved overseas.
- to be sharply reprimanded or scolded.
- to win by a small amount or narrow margin.
- Racing.to be first by a head and neck; finish closely.
Origin of neck
- save one's neckto escape from a difficult or dangerous situation
- save someone's neckto help someone else escape from such a situation
Word Origin for neck
Old English hnecca "neck, nape, back of the neck" (a fairly rare word) from Proto-Germanic *khnekkon "the nape of the neck" (cf. Old Frisian hnekka, Middle Dutch necke, Dutch nek, Old Norse hnakkr, Old High German hnach, German Nacken "neck"), with no certain cognates outside Germanic, though Klein's sources suggest PIE *knok- "high point, ridge" (cf. Old Irish cnocc, Welsh cnwch, Old Breton cnoch "hill").
The more usual Old English words were hals (the general Germanic word, cf. Gothic, Old Norse, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, German hals), cognate with Latin collum (see collar (n.)); and swira, probably also from a PIE root meaning "column" (cf. Sanskrit svaru- "post").
Transferred senses attested from c.1400. Phrase neck of the woods (American English) is attested from 1780 in the sense of "narrow stretch of woods;" 1839 with meaning "settlement in a wooded region." To stick one's neck out "take a risk" is first recorded 1919, American English. Horses running neck and neck is attested from 1799.
"to kiss, embrace, caress," 1825 (implied in necking) in northern England dialect, from neck (n.). Cf. Middle English halsen "to embrace or caress affectionately, to fondle sexually," from hals (n.) "neck." Earlier, neck as a verb meant "to kill by a strike on the neck" (mid-15c.). Related: Necked.
neck of the woods
A neighborhood or region, as in He's one of the wealthiest men in our neck of the woods. Originally (mid-1800s) alluding to a forest settlement, this colloquial term is now used more loosely, for urban as well as rural locales.
In addition to the idioms beginning with neck
- neck and neck
- neck of the woods
- albatross around one's neck
- break one's back (neck)
- breathe down someone's neck
- dead from the neck up
- millstone around one's neck
- pain in the neck
- risk life and limb (one's neck)
- save someone's bacon (neck)
- stick one's neck out
- up to one's ears (neck)