See more synonyms for peck on
  1. a dry measure of 8 quarts; the fourth part of a bushel, equal to 537.6 cubic inches (8.81 liters).
  2. a container for measuring this quantity. Abbreviation: pk, pk.
  3. a considerable quantity: a peck of trouble.

Origin of peck

1250–1300; Middle English pek < Old French < ?
Can be confusedpecks pecs


verb (used with object)
  1. to strike or indent with the beak, as a bird does, or with some pointed instrument, especially with quick, repeated movements.
  2. to make (a hole, puncture, etc.) by such strokes; pierce.
  3. to take (food) bit by bit, with or as with the beak.
verb (used without object)
  1. to make strokes with the beak or a pointed instrument.
  1. a quick stroke, as in pecking.
  2. a hole or mark made by or as by pecking.
  3. a quick, almost impersonal kiss: a peck on the cheek.
  4. (in timber) incipient decay from fungi, occurring in isolated spots.
  5. pecks. Also peck·ings. Slang. food.
Verb Phrases
  1. peck at,
    1. to nibble indifferently or unenthusiastically at (food).
    2. to nag or carp at: Stop pecking at me, I'm doing the best I can.

Origin of peck

1300–50; Middle English pecke < Middle Dutch pecken; akin to pick1
Related formsun·pecked, adjective

Synonyms for peck

See more synonyms for on
10a. pick at, poke at.


  1. Annie Smith,1850–1935, U.S. mountain climber.
  2. Gregory,1916–2003, U.S. actor. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for peck

poke, tap, kiss, pinch, beak, nibble, mark, dig, prick, rap, pick, strike, hit, jab

Examples from the Web for peck

Contemporary Examples of peck

Historical Examples of peck

British Dictionary definitions for peck


  1. a unit of dry measure equal to 8 quarts or one quarter of a bushel
  2. a container used for measuring this quantity
  3. a large quantity or number

Word Origin for peck

C13: from Anglo-Norman, of uncertain origin


  1. (when intr, sometimes foll by at) to strike with the beak or with a pointed instrument
  2. (tr sometimes foll by out) to dig (a hole) by pecking
  3. (tr) (of birds) to pick up (corn, worms, etc) by pecking
  4. (intr often foll by at) to nibble or pick (at one's food)
  5. informal to kiss (a person) quickly and lightly
  6. (intr foll by at) to nag
  1. a quick light blow, esp from a bird's beak
  2. a mark made by such a blow
  3. informal a quick light kiss

Word Origin for peck

C14: of uncertain origin; compare pick 1, Middle Low German pekken to jab with the beak


  1. Gregory. 1916–2003, US film actor; his films include Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Gunfighter (1950), The Big Country (1958), To Kill a Mockingbird (1963), The Omen (1976), and Other People's Money (1991)
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 peck

c.1300, possibly a variant of picken (see pick (v.)), or in part from Middle Low German pekken "to peck with the beak." Related: Pecked; pecking.


late 13c., "dry measure of one-quarter bushel," of unknown origin; perhaps connected with Old French pek, picot (13c.), also of unknown origin (Barnhart says these were borrowed from English). Chiefly of oats for horses; original sense may be "allowance" rather than a fixed measure, thus perhaps from peck (v.).


"act of pecking," 1610s, from peck (v.). It is attested earlier in thieves' slang (1560s) with a sense of "food, grub."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper