- a naillike fastener, 3 to 12 inches (7.6 to 30.5 cm) long and proportionately thicker than a common nail, for fastening together heavy timbers or railroad track.
- something resembling such a nail; a stiff, sharp-pointed piece or part: to set spikes in the top of a cement wall.
- a sharp-pointed piece of metal set with the point outward, as on a weapon.
- an abrupt increase or rise: a chart showing a spike of unusual activity in the stock market; a sudden spike of electrical current.
- a rectangular or naillike metal projection on the heel and sole of a shoe for improving traction, as of a baseball player or a runner.
- spikes, a pair of shoes having such projections.
- the unbranched antler of a young deer.
- Botany. a flower stalk.
- a pointed portion of a continuous curve or graph, usually rising above the adjacent portion: a spike in the value of the voltage.
- Volleyball. a hard smash, hit close to the net, almost straight down into the opponent's court.
- Slang. a hypodermic needle.
- to fasten or secure with a spike or spikes.
- to provide or set with a spike or spikes.
- to pierce with or impale on a spike.
- to set or stud with something suggesting spikes.
- to injure (another player or a competitor) with the spikes of one's shoe, as in baseball.
- Volleyball. to hit (a ball in the air) with a powerful, overarm motion from a position close to the net so as to cause it to travel almost straight down into the court of the opponents.
- Football. to slam (the ball) to the ground in the end zone, after scoring a touchdown.
- to render (a muzzle-loading gun) useless by driving a spike into the touchhole.
- to make ineffective; frustrate or thwart: to spike a rumor; to spike someone's chances for promotion.
- to add alcoholic liquor to (a drink).
- to add (a chemical, poison, or other substance) to: The cocoa was spiked with cyanide.
- Journalism Slang. to refuse (a story) by or as if by placing on a spindle.
- to rise or increase sharply (often followed by up): Interest rates spiked up last week.
- spike someone's guns. gun1(def 16).
Origin of spike1
- a sharp point
- any sharp-pointed object, esp one made of metal
- a long metal nail
- a transient variation in voltage or current in an electric circuit
- a graphical recording of this, such as one of the peaks on an electroencephalogram
- (plural) shoes with metal projections on the sole and heel for greater traction, as used by athletes
- the straight unbranched antler of a young deer
- British slang another word for dosshouse
- to secure or supply with or as with spikes
- to render ineffective or block the intentions of; thwart
- to impale on a spike
- to add alcohol to (a drink)
- journalism to reject (a news story)
- volleyball to hit (a ball) sharply downwards with an overarm motion from the front of one's own court into the opposing court
- (formerly) to render (a cannon) ineffective by blocking its vent with a spike
- spike someone's guns to thwart someone's purpose
Word Origin for spike
- an inflorescence consisting of a raceme of sessile flowers, as in the gladiolus and sedges
- an ear of wheat, barley, or any other grass that has sessile spikelets
Word Origin for spike
"large nail," mid-14c., perhaps from Old Norse spik "splinter" (related to Old English spicing "large nail"), from Proto-Germanic *spikaz (cf. Middle Dutch spicher, Dutch spijker "nail," Old English spaca, Old High German speihha "spoke"), from PIE root *spei- "sharp point" (cf. Latin spica "ear of corn," spina "thorn, prickle, backbone," and perhaps pinna "pin" (see pin (n.)); Greek spilas "rock, cliff;" Lettish spile "wooden fork;" Lithuanian speigliai "thorns," spitna "tongue of a buckle," Old English spitu "spit").
But based on gender difficulties in the Germanic words, OED casts doubt on this whole derivation and says the English word may be a borrowing of Latin spica (see spike (n.2)), from the same root. Slang meaning "needle" is from 1923. Meaning "pointed stud in athletic shoes" is from 1832. Electrical sense of "pulse of short duration" is from 1935.
"ear of grain," late 14c., from Latin spica "ear of grain," related to spina "thorn" (see spike (n.1)).
1620s, "to fasten with spikes," see spike (n.1). Meaning "To rise in a spike" is from 1958. Military sense (1680s) means "to disable guns by driving a big nail into the touch-hole." Figurative use of this sense is from 1823. Meaning "to lace (a drink) with liquor" is from 1889. Journalism sense of "to kill a story before publication" (1908) is from the metal spindle in which old-time editors filed hard copy of stories after they were set in type, or especially when rejected for publication.
- A brief electrical event of 3 to 25 milliseconds that gives the appearance in the electroencephalogram of a rising and falling vertical line.
- An elongated indeterminate inflorescence in which the flowers are attached directly to a common stem, rather than borne on individual stalks arising from the stem. The gladiolus produces spikes. The distinctive spikes of grasses such as wheat or barley are known as spikelets. See illustration at inflorescence.