\ 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 Perhaps instead of trying to explain non-medical reasons for not wanting a dog to jump on you or lick you, a white lie would be more effective., "An Examination of College Crunch Time," 16 Nov. 2019 Mary García drizzles a stream of red liquid onto her palm, licks it away and throws another handful of salt into the pot. Michael Snyder, Los Angeles Times, "An indigenous community in Mexico finds its voice — and strength — in wild mushrooms," 7 Oct. 2019 Some children poke at the marshmallow with their fingers, sniff it, lick it, or take tiny nibbles around the edges. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Forget the marshmallow test; this could be the real secret to kids’ future success," 19 Sep. 2019 Drinking from a body of water where blue-green algae lurks or licking it off fur can kill a dog within 15 minutes of exposure, according to Blue Cross for Pets, a UK animal charity. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "She took her dogs to a pond to play. Within hours, her pups had died from toxic algae," 12 Aug. 2019 Earlier this month, also at a Walmart, a teen in Texas was seen on video taking the top off a container of ice cream, licking it and putting it back. Tiffini Theisen,, "Woman urinates on potatoes at Walmart," 30 July 2019 Martin appears to open a tub of ice cream, lick it, touch it with his finger, and then place it back on the freezer shelf. Fox News, "Louisiana man arrested after allegedly licking ice cream, placing it back on shelf in 'copycat' video," 9 July 2019 Dogs may lick their paws and legs for many reasons, but the most common reasons are allergies, which causes itching, and arthritis, which causes pain in the joints. Cathy M. Rosenthal,, "Pet World: Puppy should be praised, given treat after urinating outside," 18 Oct. 2019 Flames already licked a second home on the cul-de-sac, which was choked with thick gray smoke, punctured only by the high beams of cars that sped out of the capillaries of small streets that crisscross the hillsides here. Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times, "Saddleridge fire approaches Aliso Canyon natural gas facility, site of massive 2015 blowout," 11 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For most dog-owners, a few slobbery licks are part of sharing your life with a canine companion. Claire Gillespie,, "Man Dies From Multi-Organ Failure After His Dog Licked Him and Transmitted a Rare Infection," 25 Nov. 2019 Activity in mPFC-dPAG neurons during the mice’s first licks of alcohol predicted which mice would develop compulsive drinking three weeks before the behavior actually emerged in a later phase of the study. Simon Makin, Scientific American, "Brain Circuit Involved in Compulsive Drinking Identified in Mice," 21 Nov. 2019 Thomas sacked Rudolph once and added a hit while Garrett and Richardson each were credited with licks on Rudolph. cleveland, "Sheldon Richardson, Chad Thomas, Myles Garrett set tone upfront for Browns defense helping Cleveland move to 2-0 in AFC North," 15 Nov. 2019 There’s not much to go on yet, as the debut trailer doesn’t show a lick of in-game footage. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "PDXCON 2019: Paradox reveals Crusader Kings III, Surviving the Aftermath, and more," 19 Oct. 2019 Aesthetically speaking, neither of these teams play a lick of defense, so expect fireworks early and often, especially when Oklahoma State has the ball. The Si Staff,, "Top Week 1 College Football Bets for Each Power 5 Conference," 28 Aug. 2019 Narrow: Only players who haven’t set foot on the field for a Pac-12 program were considered — that’s transfers, true freshmen and redshirt freshmen who didn’t play a lick last season, but not intra-conference transfers. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Pac-12 football: Ranking the impact newcomers for 2019 (25 names you need to know)," 26 Aug. 2019 In 2018, the festive sessions showcased a hippopotamus gobbling up a pumpkin while a tiger pawed around with one before eventually giving it a lick. Benjamin Vanhoose,, "Disney's Animal Kingdom Continues Cute Jack-O'-Lantern Tradition With Animals for Halloween," 31 Oct. 2019 Having given the cafe a lick of paint and a new name — Le Saint Eloi, named after France’s patron saint of goldsmiths — Mustière is planning a grand reopening on Sept. 30. John Leicester, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Perk up: France resuscitates dying villages 1 cafe at a time," 23 Sep. 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

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Lick.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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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to assail by words or arguments

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