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See more synonyms for picket on Thesaurus.com
  1. a post, stake, pale, or peg that is used in a fence or barrier, to fasten down a tent, etc.
  2. a person stationed by a union or the like outside a factory, store, mine, etc., in order to dissuade or prevent workers or customers from entering it during a strike.
  3. a person engaged in any similar demonstration, as against a government's policies or actions, before an embassy, office building, construction project, etc.
  4. Military. a soldier or detachment of soldiers placed on a line forward of a position to warn against an enemy advance.
  5. Navy, Air Force. an aircraft or ship performing similar sentinel duty.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to enclose within a picket fence or stockade, as for protection, imprisonment, etc.: to picket a lawn; to picket captives.
  2. to fasten or tether to a picket.
  3. to place pickets in front of or around (a factory, store, mine, embassy, etc.), as during a strike or demonstration.
  4. Military.
    1. to guard, as with pickets.
    2. to post as a picket.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to stand or march as a picket.
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Origin of picket

From the French word piquet, dating back to 1680–90. See pike2, -et
Related formspick·et·er, nouncoun·ter·pick·et, noun, verbun·pick·et·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for picket

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He did not care, now, if he were halted by a British picket or sentinel.

    The Dare Boys of 1776

    Stephen Angus Cox

  • That shall go with my soldier to battle, and stand with my picket on guard.

  • The Captain had moored Daniel to a picket in the fence over by the freight-house.

    Cap'n Eri

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • If we take it in succession to do picket and outlook duty, the enemy will be less able to harry us.



  • Some time about the middle of June, the picket line was taken up.

British Dictionary definitions for picket


  1. a pointed stake, post, or peg that is driven into the ground to support a fence, provide a marker for surveying, etc
  2. an individual or group that stands outside an establishment to make a protest, to dissuade or prevent employees or clients from entering, etc
  3. Also: picquet a small detachment of troops or warships positioned towards the enemy to give early warning of attack
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  1. to post or serve as pickets at (a factory, embassy, etc)let's go and picket the shop
  2. to guard (a main body or place) by using or acting as a picket
  3. (tr) to fasten (a horse or other animal) to a picket
  4. (tr) to fence (an area, boundary, etc) with pickets
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Derived Formspicketer, noun

Word Origin

C18: from French piquet, from Old French piquer to prick; see pike ²
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 picket


1680s, "pointed stake (for defense against cavalry, etc.)," from French piquet "pointed stake," from piquer "to pierce" (see pike (n.2)). Sense of "troops posted to watch for enemy" first recorded 1761; that of "striking workers stationed to prevent others from entering a factory" is from 1867. Picket line is 1856 in the military sense, 1945 of labor strikes.

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1745, "to enclose with pickets," from picket (n.). The sense in labor strikes, protests, etc., is attested from 1867. Related: Picketed; picketing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper