verb (used with object), poked, pok·ing.

verb (used without object), poked, pok·ing.


a thrust or push.
Informal. a slow or dawdling person; slowpoke.


    poke fun at, to ridicule or mock, especially covertly or slyly: In her novel, she pokes fun at her ex-husband.
    poke one's nose into, Informal. to meddle in; pry into: We felt as if half the people in town were poking their noses into our lives.

Origin of poke

1300–50; Middle English < Middle Dutch, Middle Low German poken to thrust. See poach1
Related formspok·a·ble, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for poking

Contemporary Examples of poking

Historical Examples of poking

  • Sidney considered, poking a slim finger into the little holes in the box.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • "The dead are restless tonight," said Simba, poking the fire.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • What if Neill Sheridan, poking about alone with a candle, could see through that veil?

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • Great humble-bees haunted the walls, and were poking about in them constantly.

  • Alexander moved about restlessly and fell to poking the fire.

    Alexander's Bridge and The Barrel Organ

    Willa Cather and Alfred Noyes

British Dictionary definitions for poking




(tr) to jab or prod, as with the elbow, the finger, a stick, etc
(tr) to make (a hole, opening, etc) by or as by poking
(when intr, often foll by at) to thrust (at)
(tr) informal to hit with the fist; punch
(usually foll by in, out, out of, through, etc) to protrude or cause to protrudedon't poke your arm out of the window
(tr) to stir (a fire, pot, etc) by poking
(intr) to meddle or intrude
(intr; often foll by about or around) to search or pry
(intr often foll by along) to loiter, potter, dawdle, etc
(tr) slang (of a man) to have sexual intercourse with
poke fun at to mock or ridicule
poke one's nose into See nose (def. 17)


a jab or prod
short for slowpoke
informal a blow with one's fist; punch
slang sexual intercourse

Word Origin for poke

C14: from Low German and Middle Dutch poken to thrust, prod, strike




dialect a pocket or bag
a pig in a poke See pig (def. 9)

Word Origin for poke

C13: from Old Northern French poque, of Germanic origin; related to Old English pocca bag, Old Norse poki pouch, Middle Dutch poke bag; compare poach ²




Also called: poke bonnet a woman's bonnet with a brim that projects at the front, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries
the brim itself

Word Origin for poke

C18: from poke 1 (in the sense: to thrust out, project)




short for pokeweed
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 poking



"to push, prod, thrust," especially with something pointed, c.1300, puken "to poke, nudge," of uncertain origin, perhaps from or related to Middle Dutch poken "to poke" (Dutch beuken), or Middle Low German poken "to stick with a knife" (cf. German pochen "to knock, rap"), both from Proto-Germanic root *puk-, perhaps imitative. Related: Poked; poking. To poke fun "tease" first attested 1840; to poke around "search" is from 1809. To poke along "advance lazily; walk at a leisurely pace" is from 1833.



"small sack," early 13c., probably from Old North French poque (12c., Old French poche) "purse, poke, purse-net," probably from a Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *puk- (cf. Old English pohha, pocca "bag, pocket," Middle Dutch poke, Old Norse poki "bag, pouch, pocket," dialectal German Pfoch), from PIE root *beu-, an imitative root associated with words for "to swell" (see bull (n.2)).



"pokeweed; a weed used in medicine and dyeing," colonial American, from native words, possibly a confusion of similar-sounding Native American plant names; from 1630s in English as "tobacco plant," short for uppowoc (1580s), from Algonquian (Virginia) *uppowoc. Later (1708) the word is used in the sense "pokeweed," as a shortened form of puccoon, from Algonquian (Virginia) *puccoon, name of a plant used for dyeing." Native roots for "smoke" and "stain" have been proposed as the origin or origins.



"an act of poking," 1796, originally pugilistic slang, from poke (v.). Also (1809) the name of a device, like a yoke with a pole, attached to domestic animals such as pigs and sheep to keep them from escaping enclosures. Hence slowpoke, and cf. pokey. Slang sense "act of sexual intercourse" is attested from 1902.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with poking


In addition to the idioms beginning with poke

  • poke around
  • poke fun at
  • poke one's nose into

also see:

  • make fun of (poke fun at)
  • pig in a poke
  • take a poke at
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.