\ ˈlik How to pronounce lick (audio) \
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

The market is dog-friendly, but dogs must remain on a short leash and follow the market's rules, including no licking or sniffing displayed food. Emma Kate Fittes, Indianapolis Star, "Here's your 2019 guide to Indianapolis area farmers markets," 12 June 2019 Photos shared during Thursday’s news conference showed Honeychurch playfully licking the beaters of an automatic hand mixer. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A serial killer nabbed in the Bay Area ‘tried to erase his victims.’ But 3 bodies hidden in barrels have now been ID’d.," 7 June 2019 Infrared cameras have caught bats licking the sap before they were collected and consumed by locals. Nupur Anand, Quartz India, "A southern Indian state is in the grip of the deadly Nipah virus again," 5 June 2019 Like howling, licking up peanut butter, and comfy chairs for snuggling in. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Pete Buttigieg and Chasten Glezman's Dogs Have More Social Media Game Than I Do," 28 Mar. 2019 The real reason for Barr’s no-show, it is strongly suspected, is that the Dems who run the house were licking their lips at the prospect of holding his feet to the fire. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: The President Has Told More Than 10,000 Lies," 5 May 2019 Meanwhile, the Seahawks’ secondary must be licking their collective lips. Mike Vorel, The Seattle Times, "Five things to know about the Seahawks’ next opponent: The Arizona Cardinals," 24 Sep. 2018 Put simply, Marchand’s licking will not become a criminal matter. Michael Mccann,, "A Look at the Possible Consequences of Brad Marchand's Tactic of Licking Opponents," 6 May 2018 The shameful Marchand licking act has to be as unsanitary as spitting on someone’s face. Kevin Allen, USA TODAY, "Brad Marchand's repeat licking is making a mockery of the NHL playoffs," 5 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In any case, a little celebration is in order after the 1099s and 1040s and receipts and what-not have been gathered up, tabulated and sent off with a lick and a promise to the U.S. Treasury and the State of Wisconsin. Jan Uebelherr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Taxes filed? Celebrate (or commiserate) with a party," 14 Apr. 2018 The Chronicle put its entire staff to work yesterday running down these reports, and is happy to say that there is not a lick of truth in them: The ... armada of 12 aircraft carriers and 87 warships was lying at anchor a mile off the Farallones. Johnny Miller, San Francisco Chronicle, "US ports closed to honor MLK," 28 Mar. 2018 Unlike his Wisconsin counterpart, though, Leo Fender couldn’t play a lick of music. David Kirby, WSJ, "‘The Birth of Loud’ Review: Constructive Feedback," 17 Jan. 2019 For another thing, nothing happening on the field made a lick of sense. Dugan Arnett,, "What happened when a soccer skeptic sat through a World Cup match," 11 July 2018 So is their father, their sisters and especially the family dog with her warm licks and fuzzy fur. Sonja Haller, USA TODAY, "Tryout season is here. How to help your kids through the pressure and anxiety," 17 May 2018 Gathering lick pics Researchers first captured footage of a domestic cat grooming using a high-speed video camera. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Science says your cat’s tongue is ideally suited for grooming fur," 28 Dec. 2018 Parrots and macaws flash green, red, blue, and yellow at the world’s largest clay lick, a short trip from the lodge. Austin Merrill, WSJ, "The Amazon: The Heart of the World," 3 Dec. 2018 Models in the 2009 video devour the picture plane in suggestive licks and kisses. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, "Marilyn Minter considers glamour, power at Ratio 3," 7 June 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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Statistics for lick

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

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
informal : a small amount
informal : a hard hit


\ ˈlik How to pronounce lick (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on lick

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lick

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lick

Spanish Central: Translation of lick

Nglish: Translation of lick for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lick for Arabic Speakers

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).


showing courage and determination

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