See more synonyms for neck on
  1. the part of the body of an animal or human being that connects the head and the trunk.
  2. the part of a garment encircling, partly covering, or closest to the neck; neckline.
  3. the length of the neck of a horse or other animal as a measure in racing.
  4. the slender part near the top of a bottle, vase, or similar object.
  5. any narrow, connecting, or projecting part suggesting the neck of an animal.
  6. a narrow strip of land, as an isthmus or a cape.
  7. a strait.
  8. the longer and more slender part of a violin or similar stringed instrument, extending from the body to the head.
  9. Building Trades, Machinery. the part on a shank of a bolt next to the head, especially when it has a special form.
  10. Anatomy. a narrowed part of a bone, organ, or the like.
  11. Dentistry. the slightly narrowed region of a tooth between the crown and the root.
  12. Printing. beard(def 5).
  13. Architecture. a cylindrical continuation of the shaft of a column above the lower astragal of the capital, as in the Roman Doric and Tuscan orders.
  14. Also called volcanic neck. Geology. the solidified lava or igneous rock filling a conduit leading either to a vent of an extinct volcano or to a laccolith.
verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. (of two persons) to embrace, kiss, and caress one another amorously.
verb (used with object)
  1. Informal. to embrace, kiss, and caress (someone) amorously.
  2. to strangle or behead.
  1. be up to one's neck, Informal. to have a surfeit; be overburdened: Right now she's up to her neck in work.
  2. break one's neck, Informal. to make a great effort: We broke our necks to get there on time.
  3. get it in the neck, Slang.
    1. to suffer punishment or loss: The trend is to consolidation and small businesses are getting it in the neck.
    2. to be rejected or dismissed: The employees got it in the neck when the company moved overseas.
    3. to be sharply reprimanded or scolded.
  4. neck and neck, even or very close; indeterminate as to the outcome: They were coming toward the finish line neck and neck.
  5. neck of the woods, Informal. neighborhood, area, or vicinity: Next time you're in this neck of the woods, drop in.
  6. stick one's neck out, Informal. to expose oneself to danger, disaster, failure, disgrace, etc.; take a risk: He stuck his neck out by supporting an unpopular candidate.
  7. win by a neck,
    1. to win by a small amount or narrow margin.
    2. be first by a head and neck; finish closely.

Origin of neck

before 900; Middle English nekke, Old English hnecca, cognate with Dutch nek nape of neck; akin to German Nacken, Old Norse hnakki nape of neck
Related formsneck·er, nounneck·less, adjectiveneck·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for neck of the woods

backyard, neighborhood, region, vicinity, locality, vicinage

British Dictionary definitions for neck of the woods


  1. the part of an organism connecting the head with the rest of the bodyRelated adjectives: cervical, jugular
  2. the part of a garment around or nearest the neck
  3. something resembling a neck in shape or positionthe neck of a bottle
  4. anatomy a constricted portion of an organ or part, such as the cervix of the uterus
  5. a narrow or elongated projecting strip of land; a peninsula or isthmus
  6. a strait or channel
  7. the part of a violin, cello, etc, that extends from the body to the tuning pegs and supports the fingerboard
  8. a solid block of lava from the opening of an extinct volcano, exposed after erosion of the surrounding rock
  9. botany the upper, usually tubular, part of the archegonium of mosses, ferns, etc
  10. the length of a horse's head and neck taken as an approximate distance by which one horse beats another in a raceto win by a neck
  11. informal a short distance, amount, or marginhe is always a neck ahead in new techniques
  12. informal impudence; audacityhe had the neck to ask for a rise
  13. architect the narrow band at the top of the shaft of a column between the necking and the capital, esp as used in the Tuscan order
  14. another name for beard, on printer's type
  15. break one's neck informal to exert oneself greatly, esp by hurrying, in order to do something
  16. by the neck Irish and Scot slang (of a bottle of beer) served unpouredgive me two bottles of stout by the neck
  17. get it in the neck informal to be reprimanded or punished severely
  18. neck and neck absolutely level or even in a race or competition
  19. neck of the woods informal an area or localitya quiet neck of the woods
  20. risk one's neck to take a great risk
  21. informal
    1. save one's neckto escape from a difficult or dangerous situation
    2. save someone's neckto help someone else escape from such a situation
  22. stick one's neck out informal to risk criticism, ridicule, failure, etc, by speaking one's mind
  23. up to one's neck in deeply involved inhe's up to his neck in dodgy dealings
  1. (intr) informal to kiss, embrace, or fondle someone or one another passionately
  2. (tr) British informal to swallow (something, esp a drink)he's been necking pints all night
Derived Formsnecker, noun

Word Origin for neck

Old English hnecca; related to Old High German hnack, Old Irish cnocc hill
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 neck of the woods



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

neck of the woods in Medicine


  1. The part of the body joining the head to the shoulders or trunk.
  2. A narrow or constricted part of a structure, as of a bone or organ, that joins its parts; a cervix.
  3. The part of a tooth between the crown and the root.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with neck of the woods

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

also see:

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