\ 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 Sadie came running and started to lick his face, and Myers had an idea. TheWeek, "German shepherd helps save owner's life after he suffers a stroke," 13 Feb. 2021 Hero says: The Bulldogs got a week off to lick their wounds after the Alabama loss while the Wildcats ran into an ambush in Mizzou last Saturday. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Halloween feast for Alabama; Auburn out of tricks?," 29 Oct. 2020 Despite the Senate leadership beginning to lick their wounds and move on, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has remained silent on the issue. Elizabeth Thompson, Dallas News, "Five incoming Texas GOP freshmen call on Nancy Pelosi to investigate election, despite little evidence of fraud," 17 Dec. 2020 Tree Taster -- likes to lick larvae from the crevices in tree bark. Mary Jane Brewer, cleveland, "Keep an eye out for Yule troublemakers on Medina County hike," 31 Dec. 2020 When threatened, lorises clasp their tiny hands above their head and lick the gland’s toxic oily secretions which super-charge their bite. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, "14 Fun Facts About Frightening Animals," 30 Oct. 2020 Heavy gray clouds still hang menacingly above but hope lives in the narrow yellow fingers of sunlight that have begun to lick the clouds away. Steve West,, "The storm is over | Opinion," 4 Dec. 2020 Pack a portable cooler and double down on the snack options in the car, especially the ones that won’t tempt family members to lick their fingers. Heather Greenwood Davis, National Geographic, "10 ways families can minimize holiday travel risk," 23 Nov. 2020 His main task was making sure the players remained safe, with Payton using a wet towel at all times to not lick his fingers and receivers using gloves to also prevent potential germ spreading. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Twists of fate allow Michigan State QB Payton Thorne's dad to see son play up close," 20 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The writers will have to figure out a way to erase the universe-shattering consequences of act three, because otherwise no other movies will make a lick of sense afterward. Adam Rogers, Wired, "WandaVision Brought the Multiverse to Marvel," 11 Feb. 2021 Now how in the hell does that make a lick of sense??? Chris Murphy, Vulture, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap: Daddy Issues," 18 Jan. 2021 The rabies virus lives in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, a scratch or by a lick that goes into an open wound, the eye or mouth, according to the Carroll County Health Department. Iris Katz,, "Pet Wise: With rabies a deadly threat, keep distance from wildlife and keep vets vaccinated," 14 Nov. 2020 When a veteran is depressed or having a panic attack or nightmare or suffering from PTSD, sometimes the antidote can be as simple as a dog's paw on their hand or a lick to their face. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin nonprofit trains dogs as life buddies for veterans," 11 Nov. 2020 There’s scant evidence that labels make a lick of difference to viewers. Washington Post, "Twitter and Facebook warning labels aren’t enough to save democracy," 9 Nov. 2020 The nutty substitute adds an extra lick of creaminess to Kilian Hennessy's newest formula, which boasts seven different types of musk for that 'your skin, but sultrier' effect. Tatjana Freund, Marie Claire, "Beauty Editors on Their Signature Winter Fragrances," 30 Oct. 2020 Connery, as the original cinema Bond, did much to make the style and tone of today’s movie franchises — even if few carry a lick of Connery’s danger. Jake Coyle, The Christian Science Monitor, "Sean Connery: A legacy that defined masculinity in a bygone era," 1 Nov. 2020 After flying, possessed, around the stage, Mai ended dealing a double slap, a bite into Armstrong's neck, and a brilliant lick. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "'DWTS' recap: Cheryl Burke dials drama with injury; Monica Aldama's Nurse Ratched can't save herself," 27 Oct. 2020

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

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lick

Nglish: Translation of lick for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lick for Arabic Speakers

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