\ 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

The perfect scenario is a flame that licks up between two pieces of wood that are about an inch apart. Ross Mccammon, Popular Mechanics, "How to Build the Perfect Fireplace Fire," 30 Nov. 2018 For now, though, the asset managers are licking early wounds. Stella Yifan Xie, WSJ, "BlackRock, Fidelity Launches Hit By Chinese Share Decline," 9 Sep. 2018 If this baby is sharing its home with a dog, that dog and baby have probably been licking each other on the face for several months. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Husband and wife disagree over work-life balance," 29 June 2018 If this baby is sharing its home with a dog, that dog and baby have probably been licking each other on the face for several months. Amy Dickinson,, "Husband and wife disagree over work-life balance," 29 June 2018 Her accusations include inappropriate kissing, licking and biting of her ears. Paulina Dedaj, Fox News, "Minnesota state lawmaker ends reelection bid amid daughter's allegations of inappropriate touching," 21 Sep. 2018 The Oakland Raiders, due to move here within the next two years, must be licking their lips. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Las Vegas needs more sports — and sports needs more Vegas," 29 May 2018 Those who had taken hope from the more open atmosphere the nuclear agreement brought — at least for a time — were licking their wounds. New York Times, "As Nuclear Sanctions Loom, ‘Normal Life’ Is Elusive for Iranians," 10 May 2018 Diners are still licking tahina-cardomon ice cream with candied orange peel and dates off their spoons when one of the supper club organizers, Sara Liss, stands to read a poem to close out the evening. Carlos Frías, miamiherald, "It’s hip. It’s eclectic. It’s Shabbat dinner, Wynwood style — and everyone’s invited," 25 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 How rare is it to be infected through a dog lick or bite? Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Death from a dog lick? Veterinarian explains rare infection triggered by pets' saliva," 15 Aug. 2018 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

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

13 Jan 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

: 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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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

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