\ˈnik \

Definition of nick 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a small notch, groove, or chip For one thing, formal chairs, beds and tables require greater vigilance on the part of the owners to protect against nicks and spills.— Sarah Collins

b : a small cut or wound got a few nicks from shaving

c : a break in one strand of two-stranded DNA caused by a missing phosphodiester bond

2 : a final critical moment in the nick of time

3 slang, British : prison also : police station … he said to me, "And how was it in the nick? Did they beat you in there at all?" — Colin MacInnes

4 British : condition in good nick


nicked; nicking; nicks

Definition of nick (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to jot down : record

2a : to make a nick in : notch, chip … her favorite haunts are … department stores where she scores deep discounts on nicked furniture sold off the floor.— Heather Lobdell

b : to cut into or wound slightly nicked himself shaving I didn't have time to get my glove up, and the ball nicked my ear as it went past me.— Steve Wulf

3 : to cut short cold weather, which nicked steel and automobile outputTime

4 : to catch at the right point or time

5 : cheat, overcharge "A cry of anguish ascended to high heavens," reported Business Week in 1933, "when millions of white-collar workers discovered that they had been nicked for a considerable percentage of their earnings when J. P. Morgan and partners had paid no income tax at all."— Cynthia Crossen

6a slang, British : arrest The new owner, my brother, had installed all the window grilles and had them wired on a direct alarm to the police station so that if anyone tried to enter that way they would be nicked.— Dick Francis

b slang, British : steal To discover at the last moment that 24 cases of Schweppes had been nicked from the cellar was a horrible shock.Sunday Times

intransitive verb

1 : to make petty attacks : snipe

2 : to complement one another genetically and produce superior offspring

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Synonyms & Antonyms for nick

Synonyms: Noun

bastille, big house [slang], bridewell, brig, calaboose, can, clink [slang], cooler, coop, guardroom, hock, hold, hoosegow, jail, jailhouse, joint [slang], jug, lockup, pen, penitentiary, pokey [slang], prison, quod [British slang], slam, slammer, stir [slang], stockade, tolbooth [Scottish]

Synonyms: Verb

apprehend, arrest, bust [slang], collar, nab, nail, pick up, pinch, pull in, restrain, run in, seize

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of nick in a Sentence


There are a couple of nicks on the painting. His face was covered with nicks and cuts after shaving. She spent a night in the nick. an economy in bad nick


He was nicked on the shoulder by a bullet. She was nicked for the theft. I nicked a couple of cars when I was younger.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Kim, Kourtney, and Kris arrived just in the nick of time for the baby's birth, meanwhile Tristan had been there for a little longer. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Kim Kardashian's First Face-to-Face Interaction With Tristan Thompson Post-Cheating Was So Awkward," 14 Nov. 2018 Photo: nick oxford/Reuters Markets may also be too sanguine about China’s ability to keep buying Iranian oil. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Oil Bears’ Teeth Look a Little Blunt," 24 Oct. 2018 To prevent nicks and possible infection or inflammation in the hair follicles, Marchbein recommends using a sharp razor, and changing out the blade every two to three shaves. Kayleigh Donahue, Allure, "Allure's Guide to Hair Removal From Your Brows to Your Bikini Line," 6 June 2018 The Liverpool man got there just in the nick of time., "Croatia 2-1 England (AET): Three Lions' Hearts Broken as Mandzukic Scores Extra Time Winner," 11 July 2018 Superheroes are always unaccountably dodging bullets and getting to the bomb in the nick of time; the greatest superpower of all is being the protagonist and having the writers on your side. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "The best superhero stories admit that superheroes are ridiculous," 11 July 2018 Case in point: That time recently when Harry, ever so gallantly, stepped in in the nick of time to save Markle from a topple. Krystin Arneson, Glamour, "Here's the Moment Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Bishop Knew They Were in Love," 24 June 2018 Yet despite captain Harry Kane putting England over the line with a perfect header — just in the nick of time — to rack up a 2-1 victory against Tunisia on Monday, there was none of that. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "England breathes sigh of relief after uninspired win against lowly Tunisia," 18 June 2018 Switzerland defenders kept getting a body part on the ball, just in the nick of time. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Switzerland Holds Brazil to a 1-1 Draw," 17 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Do be sure to stick to something with a dull edge for this operation, as a sharp blade can easily nick the fabric. Jolie Kerr, Town & Country, "How to Clean Table Linens," 10 Feb. 2017 This is fake news, there's only one player at West Brom.#WBA — The Sack Race (@thesackrace) February 16, 2018 Right, which four West Brom players was it that nicked a taxi from Maccies drive-thru in Barcelona?, "Taxi for West Brom! Twitter Reacts as Four Unnamed Players Allegedly Steal Spanish Cab," 16 Feb. 2018 Godley got nicked for a run on an RBI groundout by Bryan Holaday following singles by J.T. Riddle and Lewis Brinson. Harvey Fialkov, azcentral, "Zack Godley's curveball helps Diamondbacks fend off Marlins in win," 26 June 2018 Lowkey but Burnley have won 6 games on the bounce and are just 2 points behind Arsenal and could nick 6th with Arsenal focusing more on Europa., "Sean Dyche Insists 'Old School' Burnley Side Embody Modern Footballing Values," 19 Apr. 2018 Denmark, meanwhile, aren't quite there yet, and need at least a point here to ensure Australia have no chance of stealing ground on them against Peru and nicking second place., "World Cup Preview: Denmark vs France - Recent Form, Team News, Predictions & More," 25 June 2018 The speedy Mbaye Niang got in front of his defender, nicked the ball away from Szczesny and rolled it into the empty net. Guy Jackson,, "Senegal beat Poland for first African win at 2018 World Cup," 19 June 2018 Ed Carpenter momentarily lost control of his car and nicked Takuma Sato as his No. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "IndyCar: Late race confusion has Robert Wickens, SPM team manager irate," 8 July 2018 After singles by Nick Ahmed and Paul Goldschmidt, Pollock appeared to be barely nicked by a Lucchesi fastball to force home the tying run. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Zack Godley sharp as Diamondbacks eke out win," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nick.' 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 nick


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

History and Etymology for nick


Middle English nyke, probably alteration of nocke nock

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Learn More about nick

Dictionary Entries near nick


nicht wahr?



nickar nut



Statistics for nick

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nick

The first known use of nick was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for nick



English Language Learners Definition of nick

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small broken area that appears on something after something else hits or cuts it

: a small cut on your skin

the nick : a prison or police station



English Language Learners Definition of nick (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cut or damage a small part of the surface of (something) : to put a nick in (something)

: to make a small cut on (someone)

: to catch and arrest (someone)


\ˈnik \

Kids Definition of nick

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small cut or chip in a surface

2 : the last moment We arrived at the dock in the nick of time.


nicked; nicking

Kids Definition of nick (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a small cut or chip in


\ˈnik \

Medical Definition of nick 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a break in one strand of two-stranded DNA caused by a missing phosphodiester bond

Medical Definition of nick (Entry 2 of 2)

: to produce a nick in (DNA) circular DNA that has been nicked and closed

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More from Merriam-Webster on nick

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nick

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nick

Spanish Central: Translation of nick

Nglish: Translation of nick for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nick for Arabic Speakers

Comments on nick

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to enclose within walls

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