\ 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 Bea and Watson are instead left to lick their lovesick wounds in the finale’s last minutes. Ariana Romero,, "The Irregulars Probably Already Revealed Its Season 2 Villain," 28 Mar. 2021 At the end of the season the losing teams merely regroup, lick their wounds and try again. Chris Jones,, "Column: British soccer fans going ballistic over the Super League rebels isn’t just about an attempt to upend tradition — it is about undermining culture at large," 20 Apr. 2021 The two teams lick their wounds in their respective corners. Brian Moylan, Vulture, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: Joe Blow," 31 Mar. 2021 One of them will lick her belly, another will be curled up and a third will sit in the classic profile. New York Times, "How I Learned to Love Cardboard During the Pandemic," 30 Mar. 2021 After Sunday, the Bearcats will have five days to lick their wounds before opening the AAC tournament Friday against fourth-seeded SMU. Keith Jenkins, The Enquirer, "Reeling Cincinnati Bearcats to close out regular season Sunday at East Carolina," 7 Mar. 2021 The two share a kiss before Satan proceeds to lick his body. Gabi Thorne, Allure, "Every Jaw-Dropping Beauty Look in Lil Nas X's "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" Music Video," 26 Mar. 2021 Winners could lick that and attach it to the hood of their cars. Chris Erskine, Los Angeles Times, "Pull your car into the first drive-through Oscars. Honk! Honk!," 2 Mar. 2021 Having a dog would mean someone to greet me each morning and lick my fingers and face. Margie Goldsmith Next Avenue February 24, Star Tribune, "My Good Life: Finding love with a pandemic foster dog," 24 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With a lick of the cutlery, Bridgerton seduced a record-breaking 82 million households, ripping apart the bodice of Hollywood's assumptions about the genre. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Romancing the Screen: Could a Bridgerton effect give the romance genre a Hollywood ending?," 14 Apr. 2021 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

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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 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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