\ 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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The monkeys in blue jerseys (Japan) looked sturdier, with fat tails sticking through the holes cut in their pants, but Brazil’s yellow lineup was quick—especially when player 10 stopped licking its hands. National Geographic, "Circus-like performances by snow monkeys in Japan contradict their long-revered status," 8 Feb. 2020 Still licking its wounds from its disastrous investment in WeWork, SoftBank was reportedly selling its 50% stake in Wag, a service that connects dog owners with people who will walk their pooch for them. The Economist, "Business this week," 12 Dec. 2019 No matter the answer, one thing is for certain: as Alabama licks its wounds from an Iron Bowl loss that knocked it out of the College Football Playoff race, its best win so far this season has come against a five-loss team. Mike Rodak |, al, "Alabama’s lack of quality wins in 2019 harkens back to lean years," 4 Dec. 2019 From the day Schiff reemerged after his licking his wounds in hibernation, following the Mueller implosion, his efforts have insidiously gone downhill. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Impeachment Clock," 19 Nov. 2019 The Badgers had a week off to lick their wounds after getting trounced by Ohio State, but there’s no shame in getting beat by what could be the best team in the country. C.j. Doon,, "Is LSU vs. Alabama a playoff elimination game? Most intriguing college football questions for Week 11," 8 Nov. 2019 Numerous sides have been left licking their wounds after harsh VAR rulings, with Everton and Arsenal both recently on the wrong side of decisions last weekend., "Premier League to Discuss VAR Changes After Another Weekend Filled With Controversy," 29 Oct. 2019 Losers have to lick their wounds and try to figure it out for next week. Dan Labbe,, "Titans tight end Delanie Walker on the Browns: They were who we thought they were," 8 Sep. 2019 Since then, most of the former candidates have kept out of the public eye, licking their wounds and recalibrating their ambitions. Gregory Pratt,, "6 months ago, they were part of the largest field of mayoral candidates in Chicago history. Here’s what the former City Hall hopefuls are doing now.," 26 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And the soupe à l’oignon has a thick, sweet lick, a bruleed cheese cap and a touch of fall spice. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "3 new metro Phoenix restaurants to try in January for tacos, Hawaiian BBQ and French fare," 3 Jan. 2020 But Desir got in a few key licks of his own, showing up when the Colts needed him most. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Banged up all season, Colts cornerback Pierre Desir keeps finding a way to play," 22 Oct. 2019 After all, what's better than a sloppy lick on the cheek at midnight? Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Eight unconventional ways to ring in 2020: Celebrate New Year's Eve differently," 28 Dec. 2019 This was the same Wilson who put a lick on Torey Krug at 5:01 of the second, ending Krug’s night with an injured something or other (again, the next vague update will be Friday)., "So, who in a Black-and-Gold sweater might respond to such a thing? Monday night, no one. Crickets on an inordinately warm December eve.," 24 Dec. 2019 Christian Pulisic has taken some licks since moving to Chelsea this summer., "90min's Definitive European Player Power Rankings: Week 11," 28 Oct. 2019 See these playful kitties get their licks in below. Cady Lang, Time, "Revengeful Cat Pushes Fellow Feline Into a Pool in the Pettiest of Cat Fights Captured in This Surveillance Video," 4 Oct. 2019 The Rockies couldn’t pitch worth a lick, with a 5.87 cumulative starting ERA that was the worst in baseball and the second-highest in franchise history (6.19 in 1999). Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "With conclusion of dramatic World Series, here’s 5 big takeaways from the 2019 season," 30 Oct. 2019 There is a hush as the field sets off at a lick, disappearing briefly behind a copse before emerging to climb to the high point of the course ahead of a sweeping downhill right-hander into the final straight. Rob Hodgetts At Longchamp, CNN, "48 hours in Paris among racing's beautiful people," 15 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for lick

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for lick

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for lick


How to pronounce lick (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lick

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lick

Spanish Central: Translation of lick

Nglish: Translation of lick for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lick for Arabic Speakers

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