[ stik ]
/ stɪk /
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See synonyms for: stick / sticking / sticks / stuck on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), sticked, stick·ing.
to furnish (a plant, vine, etc.) with a stick or sticks in order to prop or support.
Printing. to set (type) in a composing stick.
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Idioms about stick

    short / dirty end of the stick, Slang. the least desirable assignment, decision, or part of an arrangement.

Origin of stick

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 stick2


stickless, adjectivesticklike, adjective

Other definitions for stick (2 of 2)

Origin of stick

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”; see also stigma, stitch

synonym study for stick

22. 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.


stick·a·ble, adjectivestick·a·bil·i·ty, nounre·stick·a·ble, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


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.

How to use stick in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for stick (1 of 2)

/ (stɪk) /

verb sticks, sticking or sticked
to support (a plant) with sticks; stake

Word Origin for stick

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

British Dictionary definitions for stick (2 of 2)

/ (stɪk) /

verb sticks, sticking or stuck

Word Origin for stick

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with stick


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