View synonyms for stick



[ stik ]


  1. a branch or shoot of a tree or shrub that has been cut or broken off.
  2. a relatively long and slender piece of wood.
  3. a long piece of wood for use as fuel, in carpentry, etc.
  4. a rod or wand.
  5. a baton.
  6. Chiefly British. a walking stick or cane.
  7. a club or cudgel.
  8. something that serves to goad or coerce: Compare carrot ( def 3 ).

    The threat of unemployment was the stick that kept the workers toiling overtime.

  9. a long, slender piece or part of anything:

    a stick of candy; sticks of celery.

  10. any of four equal parts in a pound of butter or margarine.
  11. Sports. an implement used to drive or propel a ball or puck, as a crosse or a hockey stick.
  12. Aeronautics. a lever, usually with a handle, by which the longitudinal and lateral motions of an airplane are controlled.
  13. Nautical. a mast or spar.
  14. Printing. composing stick.
  15. the sticks, Informal. any region distant from cities or towns, as rural districts; the country:

    Having lived in a large city all his life, he found it hard to adjust to the sticks.

  16. Military.
    1. a group of bombs so arranged as to be released in a row across a target.
    2. the bomb load.
  17. Informal. stick shift.
  18. Slang. a marijuana cigarette.
  19. Informal. an unenthusiastic or uninteresting person.
  20. Informal. a portion of liquor, as brandy, added to a nonalcoholic drink.

verb (used with object)

, sticked, stick·ing.
  1. to furnish (a plant, vine, etc.) with a stick or sticks in order to prop or support.
  2. Printing. to set (type) in a composing stick.



[ stik ]

verb (used with object)

, stuck, stick·ing.
  1. to pierce or puncture with something pointed, as a pin, dagger, or spear; stab:

    to stick one's finger with a needle.

    Synonyms: spear, penetrate

  2. to kill by this means:

    to stick a pig.

  3. to thrust (something pointed) in, into, through, etc.:

    to stick a needle into a pincushion.

  4. to fasten in position by thrusting a point or end into something:

    to stick a peg in a pegboard.

  5. to fasten in position by or as if by something thrust through:

    to stick a painting on the wall.

  6. to put on or hold with something pointed; impale:

    to stick a marshmallow on a fork.

    Synonyms: transfix

  7. to decorate or furnish with things piercing the surface:

    to stick a cushion full of pins.

  8. to furnish or adorn with things attached or set here and there:

    to stick shelves full of knickknacks.

  9. to place upon a stick or pin for exhibit:

    to stick butterflies.

    Synonyms: pin

  10. to thrust or poke into a place or position indicated:

    to stick one's head out of the window.

  11. to place or set in a specified position; put:

    Stick the chair in the corner.

  12. to fasten or attach by causing to adhere:

    to stick a stamp on a letter.

    Synonyms: paste, cement, glue

  13. to bring to a standstill; render unable to proceed or go back (usually used in the passive):

    The car was stuck in the mud.

  14. Carpentry. to start (a nail).
  15. Ceramics. to join (pieces of partially hardened clay) together, using slip as an adhesive.
  16. Chiefly British Informal. to tolerate; endure:

    He couldn't stick the job more than three days.

  17. to confuse or puzzle; bewilder; perplex; nonplus:

    He was stuck by the very first problem on the test.

  18. Informal. to impose something disagreeable upon (a person or persons), as a large bill or a difficult task:

    The committee persistently stuck him with fund collection.

  19. Informal. to cheat.
  20. Slang: Often Vulgar. to go to hell with: often used imperatively.

verb (used without object)

, stuck, stick·ing.
  1. to have the point piercing or embedded in something:

    The arrow stuck in the tree.

  2. to remain attached by adhesion.
  3. to hold, cleave, or cling:

    The young rider stuck to the back of his terrified horse.

  4. to remain persistently or permanently:

    a fact that sticks in the mind.

  5. to remain firm, as in resolution, opinion, statement, or attachment; hold faithfully, as to a promise or bargain.
  6. to keep or remain steadily or unremittingly, as to a task, undertaking, or the like:

    to stick to a job until it is finished.

  7. to become fastened, hindered, checked, or stationary by some obstruction:

    Her zipper stuck halfway up.

  8. to be at a standstill, as from difficulties:

    I'm stuck on this problem.

  9. to be embarrassed or puzzled; hesitate or scruple (usually followed by at ).

    Synonyms: doubt, waver, stickle

  10. to be thrust or placed so as to extend, project, or protrude (usually followed by through, from, out, up, etc.).


  1. a thrust with a pointed instrument; stab.
  2. a stoppage or standstill.
  3. something causing delay or difficulty.
  4. the quality of adhering or of causing things to adhere.
  5. something causing adhesion.

verb phrase

  1. Informal. to wait in the vicinity; linger:

    If you had stuck around, you'd have seen the fireworks.

  2. Informal. to rob, especially at gunpoint:

    A lone gunman stuck up the gas station.

  3. to speak in favor of; come to the defense of; support:

    She always sticks up for him, even though he doesn't deserve it.

  4. to extend; protrude:

    Stick out your tongue. Your shirttail is sticking out.

  5. to maintain one's attachment or loyalty to; remain faithful to:

    They vowed to stick by one another no matter what happened.



/ stɪk /


  1. tr to pierce or stab with or as if with something pointed
  2. to thrust or push (a sharp or pointed object) or (of a sharp or pointed object) to be pushed into or through another object
  3. tr to fasten in position by pushing or forcing a point into something

    to stick a peg in a hole

  4. tr to fasten in position by or as if by pins, nails, etc

    to stick a picture on the wall

  5. tr to transfix or impale on a pointed object
  6. tr to cover with objects piercing or set in the surface
  7. whenintr, foll by out, up, through, etc to put forward or be put forward; protrude or cause to protrude

    to stick one's head out of the window

  8. informal.
    tr to place or put in a specified position

    stick your coat on this chair

  9. to fasten or be fastened by or as if by an adhesive substance

    they won't stick

    stick the pages together

  10. informal.
    tr to cause to become sticky
  11. when tr, usually passive to come or cause to come to a standstill

    we were stuck for hours in a traffic jam

    the wheels stuck

  12. intr to remain for a long time

    the memory sticks in my mind

  13. slang.
    tr to tolerate; abide

    I can't stick that man

  14. intr to be reluctant
  15. informal.
    tr; usually passive to cause to be at a loss; baffle, puzzle, or confuse

    I was totally stuck for an answer

  16. slang.
    tr to force or impose something unpleasant on

    they stuck me with the bill for lunch

  17. tr to kill by piercing or stabbing
  18. stick in one's throat or stick in one's craw informal.
    to be difficult, or against one's conscience, for one to accept, utter, or believe
  19. stick one's nose into
    See nose
  20. stick to the ribs informal.
    (of food) to be hearty and satisfying


  1. the state or condition of adhering
  2. informal.
    a substance causing adhesion
  3. obsolete.
    something that causes delay or stoppage



/ stɪk /


  1. a small thin branch of a tree
    1. any long thin piece of wood
    2. such a piece of wood having a characteristic shape for a special purpose

      a walking stick

      a hockey stick

    3. a baton, wand, staff, or rod
  2. an object or piece shaped like a stick

    a stick of celery

    a stick of dynamite

  3. informal.
    the lever used to change gear in a motor vehicle
  4. nautical a mast or yard
  5. printing See composing stick
    1. a group of bombs arranged to fall at intervals across a target
    2. a number of paratroops jumping in sequence
  6. slang.
    1. verbal abuse, criticism

      I got some stick for that blunder

    2. physical power, force (esp in the phrase give it some stick )
  7. usually plural a piece of furniture

    these few sticks are all I have

  8. informal.
    plural a rural area considered remote or backward (esp in the phrase in the sticks )
  9. informal.
    plural the wooded interior part of the country
  10. plural hockey a declaration made by the umpire if a player's stick is above the shoulders
  11. plural goalposts
  12. obsolete.
    a cannabis cigarette
  13. a means of coercion
  14. informal.
    a dull boring person
  15. informal.
    usually preceded by old a familiar name for a person

    not a bad old stick

  16. in a cleft stick
    in a difficult position
  17. wrong end of the stick
    a complete misunderstanding of a situation, explanation, etc


  1. to support (a plant) with sticks; stake

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Other Words From

  • stickless adjective
  • sticklike adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of stick1

First recorded before 1000; Middle English stikke, stike, Old English sticca “stick, peg, spoon”; akin to Old High German stehho, Old Norse stik “stick”; akin to stick 2

Origin of stick2

First recorded before 900; Middle English stiken, stikken, Old English stician “to pierce, thrust”; akin to German stechen “to sting,” Latin -stīg- in instīgāre “to urge, incite,” Greek stízein “to stitch, tattoo, brand”; stigma, stitch

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Word History and Origins

Origin of stick1

Old English stician; related to Old High German stehhan to sting, Old Norse steikja to roast on a spit

Origin of stick2

Old English sticca; related to Old Norse stikka, Old High German stecca

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. short / dirty end of the stick, Slang. the least desirable assignment, decision, or part of an arrangement.
  2. stick it out, to endure something patiently to the end or its completion:

    It was a long, dusty trip but we stuck it out.

  3. stick it to (someone), Slang. to take advantage of; treat unfairly.
  4. stick it up your / one's ass, Slang: Vulgar. shove 1( def ).
  5. stick it, Slang: Often Vulgar. shove 1( def ).
  6. stick to the / one's ribs, to be substantial and nourishing, as a hearty meal:

    Hot cereal sticks to your ribs on those cold winter mornings.

  7. stick one's neck out. neck ( def 23 ).
  8. stick to one's guns. gun 1( def 19 ).

More idioms and phrases containing stick

  • carrot and stick
  • get on the stick
  • make stick
  • more than one can shake a stick at
  • short end of the stick
  • stand (stick) up for
  • wrong end of the stick

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Synonym Study

Stick, adhere, cohere mean to cling to or be tightly attached to something. Adhere implies that one kind of material clings tenaciously to another; cohere adds the idea that a thing is attracted to and held by something like itself: Particles of sealing wax cohere and form a mass that will adhere to tin. Stick, a more colloquial and general term, is used particularly when a third kind of material is involved: A gummed label will stick to a package.

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Example Sentences

At 14 hives, the researchers used a balloon tied to a stick to chase off hornets, says Otis.

Let’s start with the stick vacuumVacuum cleaners these days come in all shapes and sizes and there are various aspects you might want to think about when working out which one you want.

If he had 10 plates spinning on sticks before, now he’s got 20.

If crosspieces are in the right place, your toes should be covering the first stick you tied, and your heels should be covering the second stick you tied, for each shoe.

This guy’s charging at them, with a knife in one hand, a stick in the other, screaming at them, in a confined space.

Added to drinking water at concentrations of around one part per million, fluoride ions stick to dental plaque.

He wore white gloves, a dignified long black coat, and matching pants and vest, and he carried a dark walking stick.

After some animated debate at the conference, Lelaie declared, with some frustration, “If you push on the stick, you will fly.”

The birds poop all over the forest, and thanks to the viscin, the mistletoe seeds in said poop stick to branches.

And for Larry Flynt, this might be a monumental opportunity to stick it to the dictator the best way he knows how.

You see, they always butter their chairs so that they won't stick fast when they sit down.

Whoever succeeded in getting the ring on his stick won the game, and carried the prize home as a sign of victory.

By using his walking stick he discovered that they formed a trail to a point in the wall.

I am not informed further; but inasmuch as you are living on the place, my advice is that you stick right there, and hold it.

The last time I tried it, I caught the end of my stick between two rocks and it broke.


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About This Word

What does stick mean?

Content warning: this article references guns.

Stick is a slang term for “gun,” especially an automatic rifle in Southern hip-hop in the U.S. That means you can “stick ’em up”… with a stick.

Where does stick come from?

The use of stick to refer to a “gun” or “rifle” can be traced back to as early as the 1840s. Stick, here, is due to the long, narrow, and stick-like appearance of a rifle as well as perhaps its wooden butt.

In 1900, President Theodore Roosevelt famously formulated his foreign policy as “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” This stick wasn’t necessarily a gun, but rather a collection of them, shall we say: he meant having a strong military was essential should diplomatic negotiations fail.

During the 1960s, rifles were called idiot sticks during the Vietnam war. Stick was also the title of a 1985 crime film starring Burt Reynolds and Candice Bergen. Stick is the main character’s nickname, but it also calls up his car-thief, gun-wielding ways.

Stick, for a “rifle” like an AK-47 assault rifle, was popularized by Southern hip-hop, especially in Atlanta, Georgia and Miami, Florida. Urban Dictionary entries for it went up in 2010, though an earlier one from 2007 notes stick‘s use for a handgun or pistol in the UK.

Future released “Stick Talk” in 2015 on which he raps about the firepower of sticks. On his viral 2016 “Dat $tick,” Rich Brian also uses stick in his lyrics. On verified annotations on Genius, Brian, an Indonesian rapper based in Los Angeles, confirms that stick is slang for “gun.”

How is stick used in real life?

Stick is prevalent as hip-hop slang, usually featured in threats or acts of aggression about urban life. Atlanta rapper SahBabii came into the spotlight with his 2016 “Pull Up Wit Ah Stick,” where he raps: “Pull up with the stick, let it hit / I put this on the ten, I’ma end.”

Hip-hop helped the slang spread into the popular lexicon, where, especially online, people have made humorous riffs on lyrics like SahBabii’s pulling up with a stick.


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




-stichousstick around