\ 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

Noun 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 Verb 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 Got there just in the nick of time':200 queens were in first 'murder hornet' nest. Dustin Barnes, USA TODAY, "US and Canada setting up for showdown with 'murder hornets' as 2021 nesting season starts," 18 Mar. 2021 In the nick of time, the WHL announced their new streaming platform. Dylan Bumbarger, oregonlive, "Trending Winterhawks: March 18 starts a compact schedule," 25 Feb. 2021 One way to test if a plant or part of a plant is still alive is by using a sharp pocketknife to make a small nick in the main branch. Daniel Cunningham, Dallas News, "Will your plants survive? How to assess your North Texas landscape after deep freeze," 24 Feb. 2021 Arkansas first baseman Cullen Smith made a nick pick on the throw from Jalen Battles to retire Wood and end the inning. Matt Jones, Arkansas Online, "LIVE UPDATES: Arkansas vs. TCU at College Baseball Showdown," 23 Feb. 2021 Cornerback Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson were activated off COVID-19 reserve on Wednesday just in the nick of time. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland, "Browns CBs Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson activated off the COVID-19 reserve list for the divisional playoff game vs. the Chiefs," 13 Jan. 2021 Working Minnesotans could see $600 in direct relief checks as early as next week, while those unemployed will get an extension in the nick of time, continuing $300-a-week benefits that otherwise would have expired on Dec. 26. Star Tribune, "COVID-19 relief comes just in the nick of time," 22 Dec. 2020 But in a weird bit of real history, Catherine really did beg for mercy for the lives of the rebels — and Henry spared them, literally in the nick of time, giving them cause to remove the nooses already around their necks. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Spanish Princess recap: Catherine and Henry walk in fields of gold — and other historical observations," 16 Nov. 2020 These include base editing—which unzips the DNA enough to swap a single base pair for another—and prime editing, which does that, and more, with just a little nick on one side of the DNA double helix. Megan Molteni, Wired, "In Embryos, Crispr Can Cut Out Whole Chromosomes—That's Bad," 29 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Meanwhile, Marquez, gifted with a 3-0 lead, was nicked for a run in each of the first two frames. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Rockies romp Reds to earn first consecutive wins in a month as Daniel Murphy, David Dahl homer," 26 July 2019 Kessel fired a shot that nicked the end of Allen's glove but still beat him off the far post and into the net. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes snap losing streak with win over defending champion St. Louis Blues," 31 Dec. 2019 There’s the famous vampire bat, which nicks the ankles of cattle and other animals and laps the trickling blood. James Gorman, New York Times, "Meet the Bloodsuckers," 28 Oct. 2019 One was a punt that nicked the leg of one of our return blockers and the other one was a quarterback-running back exchange. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "What Mario Cristobal said about Oregon’s first bye week," 25 Sep. 2019 Though the Black Death typically spreads by flea bite, in this instance the boy caught it simply by nicking his finger. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, "How Bubonic Plague Has Helped Russia Fight the Coronavirus," 15 Apr. 2020 Our hearts will not break if the shoes get nicked at the toe. Thomas Gebremedhin, The Atlantic, "Souvankham Thammavongsa on the Inner Lives of Children," 13 Mar. 2020 The resulting violence is almost comedically baroque, the special effects at times howlingly crass — blood geysers forth as if every blow has nicked a major artery — but none of it is meanspirited. Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, "‘VFW’ Review: Old Soldiers, New War," 13 Feb. 2020 Landeskog appeared to have nicked the puck with his stick. Mike Chambers, The Denver Post, "Avalanche allows three goals in final three minutes in loss to Hurricanes," 19 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for nick

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for nick

Last Updated

26 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on nick

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nick

Nglish: Translation of nick for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nick for Arabic Speakers

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