\ ˈnik How to pronounce nick (audio) \

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 British, informal : 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, informal : 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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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

Castro had planned to soldier on in the contest even if the CNN poll hadn’t arrived in the nick of time, according to his campaign. Bill Lambrecht,, "Attacks on racism and Trump resonate for Texans Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro," 20 Aug. 2019 Kinnickinnic River, Street, State Park Kih-nih-kih-neck... but also Kin-NEY-kuh-nick... but also Kih-nih-KIH-neck It's affectionately called KK by locals. Jack Mccordick, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "17 words only a true Wisconsinite knows how to pronounce," 19 June 2019 Hide Scratches in Wood Most pieces of dark wood furniture accumulate their fair share of nicks, chips, and scratches over the years. Heidi Davis, Popular Mechanics, "10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Coffee," 29 Sep. 2014 My inbox is a wasteland of free trials canceled just in the nick of time. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Plex makes piracy just another streaming service," 23 July 2019 And then, just in the nick of time, Armstrong set the lander down and shut off its engine. William Harwood, CBS News, "The inside story of Apollo 11's nail-biting descent to the surface of the moon," 15 July 2019 The beauty of this blade is the diamondlike coating, which actually allows it to get closer to your skin with fewer nicks. Deanna Pai, Glamour, "How to Shave Your Legs Perfectly," 30 June 2019 The justices even agreed to a faster briefing and argument schedule to get the case heard and decided in the nick of time. S.m. | New York, The Economist, "The Trump administration scrambles to add citizenship to the census," 9 July 2019 Cameroon secured their first win of the tournament on matchday three, just in the nick of time to qualify for the knockout stages., "2019 Women's World Cup: England vs Cameroon Preview - Where to Watch, Live Stream, Team News & More," 22 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The blue heritage placard sits high up on the wall so that no souvenir-hunter can nick the marker of the abode where the nude cover photo for Lennon’s first solo album Two Virgins (1968) was made. National Geographic, "The ultimate itinerary for Beatles fans," 29 July 2019 Lane is quickly overwhelmed by the home’s issues: a sole, rusted faucet nicks her but doesn’t spout water; bugs are everywhere; plaster and roof and load-bearing pieces of infrastructure are falling apart. Jacqueline Kantor, Curbed, "Beginning again when a home falls apart," 8 Aug. 2019 Houston nicked Lambert for another run in the third on Gurriel’s sacrifice fly, making it 5-1. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Astros obliterate Rockies to cap two-game series sweep as rookie Peter Lambert undergoes further growing pains," 7 Aug. 2019 Jordan Thomas is nicked up now, but should have a significant role. Albert Breer,, "Five Observations From Texans Training Camp," 1 Aug. 2019 The ground force commander, Clark was shot in the chest, the bullet nicking his heart, collapsing his lungs and ripping his liver in half. Sig Christenson,, "San Antonio airman’s quick thinking saved 3 in ambush," 18 July 2019 Quad bikes, which farmers use to get around their estates, are easy to nick. The Economist, "From fly-tipping to sheep rustling, Britain’s cops crack down on rural crime," 25 July 2019 Hide the wrinkle, disguise the blemish, but keep nicking boundaries and never waver. Jeffrey Fleishman,, "Kathy Griffin made $75 million making people laugh. But the phone’s not ringing," 22 July 2019 Hide the wrinkle, disguise the blemish, but keep nicking boundaries and never waver. Los Angeles Times, "Kathy Griffin fell from the D-list to the S-list. She’s clawing her way back," 18 July 2019

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

8 Sep 2019

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
British slang : 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 How to pronounce nick (audio) \

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 How to pronounce nick (audio) \

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

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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