\ 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


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

Good on him for licking his wounds and getting right back in the game! Dana Rose Falcone,, "Chris Harrison Spills on Blake's Bachelor in Paradise 'Love Octagon', 'Connection’ with Hannah," 7 Aug. 2019 A few days later, in Louisiana, a 36-year-old man was accused of licking a container of Blue Bell ice cream and poking it with his finger, then putting it back. Tiffini Theisen,, "Woman urinates on potatoes at Walmart," 30 July 2019 Cats spend a pretty significant amount of their time licking themselves. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian, "Five Scientific Findings That Could Lead to New Inventions," 13 July 2019 As devastating as losing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final was, the Bruins will not have much time to lick their wounds. Andrew Mahoney,, "A Bruins-centric guide to the NHL Draft," 18 June 2019 The girl licked it and then put it back in the jar. Doug Criss, CNN, "Here's why people lick tubs of ice cream or tongue depressors and put the video on social media," 12 July 2019 The other one rushes toward it and immediately grooms and licks it. Sigal Samuel, Vox, "How your brain invents morality," 8 July 2019 Based on comments Martin allegedly made to detectives, the sheriff's office believes he was inspired by a video of a juvenile who opened a carton of ice cream at a Texas Walmart, licked it and put it back, Cavalier said. Emanuella Grinberg, CNN, "Another person was caught on camera licking ice cream in a store, police say," 7 July 2019 To encourage the trend of licking envelopes again, the card shop is giving its Crown Rewards members a free greeting card from the collection every Friday (in-store only), through Sept. 27. Laura Daily And Bryan K. Chavez, The Know, "16 free and cheap things to do around Denver in July," 1 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The chicken has a little bit of a chile lick, but even the pickles are spicier. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Everything you need to know about hot chicken in metro Phoenix — including where to find the spiciest," 26 June 2019 Buildings here have been given a fresh lick of white paint, but the protest art and graffiti underneath is still faintly visible. Ben Wedeman, CNN, "Activists were killed and women were raped. But some defiant Sudanese say their revolution isn't over yet," 20 June 2019 The little boy, Cash, cruised the festival in his tiny green car, pausing to let a bystander take his photo or a police dog lick his cheek. Smithsonian, "Take a Trip to America’s Hot Rod Heaven," 10 July 2019 Now the capital has been reduced to ashes, Daenerys is officially off her rocker, and Sansa is the only person in Westeros with a lick of sense. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Did Varys Try to Kill Daenerys On 'Game of Thrones'?," 13 May 2019 And like his stinging guitar licks, Alvin’s aim is true. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: How Dave Alvin’s Bonita church concert took us to musical heaven," 17 June 2019 Musically, Prince’s demo of that 1984 single isn’t too different, with flinty guitar licks and double-time grooves leading the way. Maura Johnston, Time, "Prince Wrote These Songs for Other Stars. Now Listen to Him Sing Them," 20 June 2019 But these old songs were made new, thanks to Dylan’s obvious passion for them and an odd brew of musical voices in the band: Ronson’s spacey glam-rock guitar licks, Dave Mansfield’s folky pedal steel, and Rivera’s gypsy violin lines. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "The Chaotic Magic of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue," 10 June 2019 In any case, a little celebration is in order after the 1099s and 1040s and receipts and what-not have been gathered up, tabulated and sent off with a lick and a promise to the U.S. Treasury and the State of Wisconsin. Jan Uebelherr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Taxes filed? Celebrate (or commiserate) with a party," 14 Apr. 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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Dictionary Entries near lick








Statistics for lick

Last Updated

11 Aug 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
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

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

Comments on lick

What made you want to look up lick? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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