verb (used with object)
- to pluck (the strings of an instrument).
- to play (a stringed instrument) by plucking with the fingers.
verb (used without object)
- a speck of dirt, hardened ink, or extra metal on set type or a plate.
- a small area removed from the surface of a coated paper by ink that adheres to the form.
- to find fault with unnecessarily or persistently; nag.
- to eat sparingly or daintily: As he was ill, he only picked at his food.
- to grasp at; touch; handle: The baby loved to pick at her mother's glasses.
- to remove by pulling or plucking off.
- to single out and shoot: The hunter picked off a duck rising from the marsh.
- Baseball. to put out (a base runner) in a pick-off play.
- Informal. to criticize or blame; tease; harass.
- to single out; choose: The professor always picks on me to translate long passages.
- to choose; designate: to pick out one's successor.
- to distinguish from that which surrounds or accompanies; recognize: to pick out a well-known face in a crowd.
- to discern (sense or meaning); discriminate.
- to play (a melody) by ear; work out note by note.
- to extract by picking.
- to lift or take up: to pick up a stone.
- to collect, especially in an orderly manner: Pick up the tools when you're finished.
- to recover (one's courage, health, etc.); regain.
- to gain by occasional opportunity; obtain casually: to pick up a livelihood.
- to learn, as by experience: I've picked up a few Japanese phrases.
- to claim: to pick up one's bags at an airport.
- to take (a person or thing) into a car or ship, etc., or along with one.
- to bring into range of reception, observation, etc.: to pick up Rome on one's radio.
- to accelerate; gain (speed).
- to put in good order; tidy: to pick up a room.
- to make progress; improve: Business is beginning to pick up.
- to catch or contract, as a disease.
- Informal. to become acquainted with informally or casually, often in hope of a sexual relationship: Let's pick up some dates tonight.
- to resume or continue after being left off: Let's pick up the discussion in our next meeting.
- Informal. to take into custody; arrest: They picked him up for vagrancy.
- Informal. to obtain; find; purchase: She picked up some nice shoes on sale.
- Slang. to steal: to pick up jewels and silver.
- to accept, as in order to pay: to pick up the check.
- become aware or cognizant of; be perceptive about; notice: to pick up on the hostess's hostility.
- to pay special attention to; keep an eye on: to pick up on a troubled student.
- pick 'n' mix,
- pick a bone with,
- pick a quarrel,
- pick and choose,
- pick and mix
Origin of pick1
Word Origin for pick
Word Origin for pick
Word Origin for pick
early 13c., picken "to peck;" c.1300, piken "to work with a pick," probably representing a fusion of Old English *pician "to prick," (implied by picung "a piercing, pricking," an 8c. gloss on Latin stigmata) with Old Norse pikka "to prick, peck," from a common Germanic root (cf. Middle Dutch picken, German picken "to pick, peck"), perhaps imitative. Influence from Middle French piquer "to prick, sting" (see pike (n.2)) also is possible, but that French word generally is not considered a source of the English word. Related: Picked; picking.
Meaning "to eat with small bites" is from 1580s. The meaning "to choose, select, pick out" emerged late 14c., from earlier meaning "to pluck with the fingers" (early 14c.). Sense of "to rob, plunder" (c.1300) weakened to a milder sense of "steal petty things" by late 14c. Of forcing locks with a pointed tool, by 1540s. Meaning "to pluck (a banjo)" is recorded from 1860. To pick a quarrel, etc. is from mid-15c.; to pick at "find fault with" is from 1670s. Pick on "single out for adverse attention" is from late 14c.; pick off "shoot one by one" is recorded from 1810; baseball sense of "to put out a runner on base" is from 1939. Also cf. pick up. To pick and choose "select carefully" is from 1660s (choose and pick is attested from c.1400).
c.1200, "pointed tool for breaking up rock or ground," variant of pike (n.4). Meaning "sharp tool" is from mid-14c.
mid-15c., "a blow with a pointed instrument," from pick (v.). Meaning "plectrum for a guitar, lute, etc." is from 1895; as a type of basketball block, from 1951; meaning "choicest part or example" is first recorded 1760.
Tease, bully, victimize, as in She told Mom the boys were always picking on her. [Second half of 1800s] This expression is sometimes put as pick on someone your own size, meaning “don't badger someone who is younger, smaller, or weaker than yourself but do so only to an equal.”
In addition to the idioms beginning with pick
- pick a bone with
- pick and choose
- pick apart
- pick a quarrel
- pick at
- picked over
- pick holes in
- pick off
- pick of the litter
- pick on
- pick one's way
- pick out
- pick over
- pick someone's brain
- pick to pieces
- pick up
- pick up on
- pick up the pieces
- bone to pick
- slim pickings