lick

1 of 2

verb

licked; licking; licks

transitive verb

1
a(1)
: to draw the tongue over
(2)
: to flicker over like a tongue
b
: to take into the mouth with the tongue : lap
2
a
: 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

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: an act or instance of licking
b
: a small amount : bit
couldn't swim a lick
c
: a hasty careless effort
2
a
: a sharp hit : blow
b
: a directed effort : crack
usually used in plural
usually used in the phrase get in one's licks
3
a
: 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
Phrases
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
lick and a promise
: a perfunctory performance of a task

Examples of lick in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun Could I have a lick of your ice cream? It just needs a lick of paint.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
In an abject effort to persuade Lee not to reveal this to her, Oh barks like a dog, licks Lee’s shoes, and cuts off his own tongue with scissors. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2024 The Arkansas Razorbacks lick their wounds after the SEC Tournament and take out their frustrations out on their upcoming opponents. Tony Holt, arkansasonline.com, 8 Apr. 2024 Constant licking around the lips and surrounding skin can even result in a rash around the mouth area. Jocelyn Solis-Moreira, CNN, 7 Apr. 2024 Meanwhile, from neighboring countries, the perpetrators licked their wounds, rearmed, and resolved to finish the job. Jonathan M. Hansen, TIME, 7 Apr. 2024 As the season begins, Ava is licking her wounds over having been fired; for there to be a show at all, Ava needs to return to the fold with a woman who’s hurt her deeply. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 4 Apr. 2024 The short clip featured the perfect soundtrack — an innocuously seductive hip-hop beat — as Fripp caressed the neck of his six-string, licked his lips, and made faces that struck a perfect balance between smoldering and stupefied. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 1 Apr. 2024 Because our cat cuddled and licked at the catnip toy, the fuzzy exterior did feel a little crusty by the time our testing period was complete, but none of the toy’s fur appeared to come off in the process. Cai Cramer, Peoplemag, 16 Feb. 2024 The rights to the Winnie-the-Pooh characters had been owned by the Walt Disney Company since 1966 (at that point, Disney was eating up children’s classics as greedily as Pooh licking out the insides of his honey jar). Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 27 Mar. 2024
Noun
Humble country touchstones—banjo licks, lyrics about boots and spurs—are stitched, with seams showing, to dizzying dance beats, lushly stacked vocal harmonies, and cartoonishly giddy raps and chants. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 29 Mar. 2024 When a cat with this bacteria in their saliva bites, licks, or scratches you, the resulting infection is called cat-scratch disease. Dr. Roshini Raj, Health, 3 Mar. 2024 They’re kind of driven by the lick and the vibes that Charlie creates. Chris Willman, Variety, 30 Nov. 2023 Eric [Clapton] came in, played great, just one tasty lick after another. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2024 With guitar licks and drum patterns sourced from Afrobeats, this culture-bridging track could very well become a sleeper hit as 2024 barrels on. Kyle Denis, Billboard, 28 Feb. 2024 The score is loaded with Mahler-style bombast, jazz licks and an ongoing flirtation with atonality. Scott Hocker, theweek, 5 Jan. 2024 Furthermore, the night concluding with Satriani’s set was a perfect way to end the evening of many riffs & licks. Quentin Singer, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Only the salvation of an unexpected sisterly connection between Gretchen and Alma makes a lick of sense. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lick.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near lick

Cite this Entry

“Lick.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lick. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

lick

1 of 2 verb
1
a
: to pass the tongue over
licked the bowl
b
: to touch or pass over like a tongue
flames were already licking the ceiling
2
: to take up with the tongue
kittens licking milk
3
a
: to hit again and again : beat
b
: to get the better of
licking noun

lick

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: an act or instance of licking
b
: a small amount : bit
hasn't done a lick of work
c
: a hasty careless effort
2
: a sharp hit : blow
got in a few licks of my own
3
: a place (as a spring) having a deposit of salt that animals regularly lick

called also salt lick

More from Merriam-Webster on lick

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