\ˈlik \
licked; licking; licks

Definition of lick 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a(1) : to draw the tongue over

(2) : to flicker over like a tongue

b : to take into the mouth with the tongue : lap

2a : to strike repeatedly : thrash

b : to get the better of : overcome, defeat

intransitive verb

1 : to lap with or as if with the tongue

2 : to dart like a tongue

lick into shape

: to put into proper form or condition

lick one's chops

: to feel or show eager anticipation

lick one's wounds

: to recover from defeat or disappointment



Definition of lick (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : an act or instance of licking

b : a small amount : bit couldn't swim a lick

c : a hasty careless effort

2a : a sharp hit : blow

b : a directed effort : crack usually used in plural usually used in the phrase get in one's licks

3a : a natural salt deposit (such as a salt spring) that animals lick

b : a block of often medicated saline preparation given to livestock to lick

4 : a musical figure specifically : an interpolated and usually improvised figure or flourish

5 : a critical thrust : dig, barb

lick and a promise

: a perfunctory performance of a task

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Examples of lick in a Sentence


He licked the stamp before putting it on the envelope. The dog licked at the plate. She licked the sauce off her finger. The cat licked the milk off her paws. Flames were already licking the ceiling. Flames were already licking at the ceiling.


Could I have a lick of your ice cream? It just needs a lick of paint.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In summary, defining interest from a school in recruiting is like trying to lick your elbow. Alex Schiffer, kansascity, "This week in Mizzou recruiting: E.J. Liddell, Tray Jackson, Isiaih Mosley and more," 12 July 2018 For a while, arsenic was considered safe enough to use as dye for stamps meant to be licked, and in dresses and ballgowns, according to Atlas Obscura. Amanda Erickson, Washington Post, "Three poisonous books were found in University of Southern Denmark’s library," 10 July 2018 Participants will be asked to lick a frozen piece of human fecal matter. Helen Shen, Scientific American, "The Despondent Mind: Are Our Brains Wired for Doom and Gloom?," 28 June 2018 Remember in 2015 when the pop singer visited a California shop and proceeded to lick powdered doughnuts on display? Cincinnati Enquirer,, "Remember when Ariana Grande licked a doughnut?," 12 June 2018 Whereas Arya is always trying to lick someone or play with her toys, Gandalf always prefers to be sleeping or getting petted. Special To,, "Miniature schnauzer is welcome "brother" for Shaker Heights family's first pet: Send us your pet rescue stories," 17 Jan. 2018 The ad begins with a doctored photo of dogs licking Moustakas' face. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "'Mike Moustakas hates puppies.' Indians make parody video for All-Star Game voting," 13 June 2018 The National Hockey League allows fighting during its games, but the league has seen enough of a player appearing to lick the face of his opponent. Geoffrey C. Arnold,, "NHL orders Boston Bruins Brad Marchand to stop licking opponents," 7 May 2018 The two went nose-to-nose during after a whistle with 1:21 left in the second, before Marchand leaned in and tried to lick Callahan's face. Jimmy Golen,, "Lightning Take 3-1 Series Lead Over Bruins," 4 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

May 4th – Marchand licks Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan Marchand and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ryan Callahan got physical with each other a few times Friday night, but Callahan received a lick on the cheek for confronting Marchand following a low hit. Nick Schwartz, For The Win, "A strange history of Brad Marchand kissing and licking NHL players," 5 May 2018 Just a quick, investigative lick of the toad's back can be fatal to a dog. Madeleine Marr, miamiherald, "They show up in your yard after it rains. And they can kill your dog.," 6 June 2018 Johnson had a knack for uplifting a song with just a single guitar lick, a little percussive chink sound, at the right time and place. Matt Wake |,, "Muscle Shoals icons The Swampers releasing 'lost' album," 18 Jan. 2018 At the same time, the lick doesn’t violate any specific game rule. Michael Mccann,, "A Look at the Possible Consequences of Brad Marchand's Tactic of Licking Opponents," 6 May 2018 After the two massive dog walks, a variety of competitions ensued, including a musical chairs sitting contest, talent challenge, costume contest and a peanut butter lick-off challenge. Mark Graves,, "Over 4,000 dogs flood Waterfront Park for Doggie Dash 2018," 12 May 2018 Eleven lick sites - 10 human-made and one natural - were sampled from 2012-'15. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UW researchers verify chronic wasting disease prions at mineral lick sites," 2 May 2018 Marchand licks Komarov Marchand upped his intensity from the regular season, and delivered a first-round lick to Komarov’s face after the two exchanged shots. Nick Schwartz, For The Win, "A strange history of Brad Marchand kissing and licking NHL players," 5 May 2018 If a wild animal—or even a pet that’s acting strangely—licks, scratches, bites, or touches you, head to the doctor ASAP, Dr. Willoughby says. Lindsey Lanquist, SELF, "A 6-Year-Old Boy Died From a Rabies Infection After Being Scratched by a Bat," 18 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lick.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lick


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)


1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lick


Middle English, from Old English liccian; akin to Old High German leckōn to lick, Latin lingere, Greek leichein

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Dictionary Entries near lick








Statistics for lick

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lick

The first known use of lick was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for lick



English Language Learners Definition of lick

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to pass the tongue over (a surface, an object, etc.)

: to take (something) into your mouth with your tongue

: to lightly touch or go over (a surface)



English Language Learners Definition of lick (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act of passing your tongue over something : the act of licking something

: a small amount

: a hard hit


\ˈlik \
licked; licking

Kids Definition of lick

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to pass the tongue over I licked the spoon.

2 : to touch or pass over like a tongue They saw flames licking a wall.

3 : to hit again and again : beat

4 : to get the better of : defeat The home team licked their opponents.

Other Words from lick

licking noun When Mom finds out, you're going to get a licking.



Kids Definition of lick (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of passing the tongue over

2 : a small amount My sister never did a lick of work.

3 : a place ( salt lick ) where salt is found or provided for animals

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Comments on lick

What made you want to look up lick? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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