1

pick

verb \ ˈpik \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of pick

transitive verb
1 : to pierce, penetrate, or break up with a pointed instrument
  • picked the hard clay
2 a : to remove bit by bit
  • pick meat from bones
b : to remove covering or adhering matter from
  • pick the bones
3 a : to gather by plucking
  • pick apples
b : choose, select
  • tried to pick the shortest route
c : to make (one's way) slowly and carefully
  • picked his way through the rubble
4 a : pilfer, rob
  • pick pockets
b : to obtain useful information from by questioning used in such phrases as pick the brains of
5 : provoke
  • pick a quarrel
6 a : to dig into : probe
  • picking his teeth
b : to pluck (a stringed instrument, such as a guitar) with a pick or with the fingers
c : to loosen or pull apart with a sharp point
  • pick wool
7 : to unlock with a device (such as a wire) other than the key
  • pick a lock
intransitive verb
1 : to use or work with a pick
2 : to gather or harvest something by plucking
3 : pilfer used in the phrase picking and stealing
4 : to eat sparingly or mincingly
  • picking listlessly at his dinner
pick and choose
: to select with care and deliberation
pick at
: to criticize repeatedly especially for minor faults : nag
pick on
: to single out for criticism, teasing, or bullying
  • picked on smaller boys
; also : to single out for a particular purpose or for special attention

Origin and Etymology of pick

Middle English piken, partly from Old English *pīcian (akin to Middle Dutch picken to prick); partly from Middle French piquer to prick — more at pike


2

pick

noun

Definition of pick

1 : a blow or stroke with a pointed instrument
2 a : the act or privilege of choosing or selecting : choice
  • take your pick
b : the best or choicest one
  • the pick of the herd
c : one that is picked
  • his pick for vice president
3 : the portion of a crop gathered at one time
  • the first pick of peaches
4 : a screen in basketball
5 football : an intercepted forward pass : interception
  • … McNabb had his worst game of the year. He threw two picks, fumbled twice, got sacked seven times.
  • —Paul Zimmerman

First Known Use of pick

15th century


3

pick

noun

Definition of pick

1 : a heavy, usually long-handled iron or steel tool pointed at one or both ends — compare mattock
2 a : toothpick
b : picklock
c : a small thin piece (as of plastic or metal) used to pluck the strings of a stringed instrument
3 : one of the points on the forepart of the blade of a skate used in figure skating
4 : a comb with long widely spaced teeth used to give height to a hairstyle

Illustration of pick

Origin and Etymology of pick

Middle English pik


4

pick

verb

Definition of pick

transitive verb
1 chiefly dialectal : to throw or thrust with effort : hurl
2 : to throw (a shuttle) across the loom

Origin and Etymology of pick

Middle English pykken to pitch (a tent); akin to Middle English picchen to pitch


5

pick

noun

Definition of pick

1 dialectal, England
a : the act of pitching or throwing
b : something thrown
2 a : a throw of the shuttle
b : a filling thread

First Known Use of pick

1627


PICK Defined for Kids

1

pick

verb \ ˈpik \

Definition of pick for Students

picked; picking
1 : to gather one by one
  • Pick your own strawberries.
2 : to remove bit by bit
  • I picked the pepperoni off my pizza.
3 : to remove unwanted material from between or inside
  • He picked his teeth.
4 : choose 1, select
  • Pick a card.
5 : to walk along slowly and carefully
  • Picking our way through debris, we crossed the tracks …
  • —Richard Peck, A Year Down Yonder
6 : to eat sparingly or in a finicky manner
  • She picked at her dinner.
7 : to steal from
  • pick a pocket
8 : to start (a fight) with someone deliberately
9 : to pluck with the fingers or with a pick
  • pick a banjo
10 : to unlock without a key
  • pick a lock

picker

noun
pick on
: to single out for mean treatment
pick up
1 : to take hold of and lift
  • She picked the book up.
2 : to clean up : tidy
  • Pick up your room.
3 : to stop for and take along
  • The bus picked up passengers.
4 : learn 1
  • Readers often pick up new words from their reading.
5 : to get without great effort or by chance
  • He picked up a bad habit.
6 : to get by buying
  • pick up a bargain
7 : to begin again after a temporary stop
  • Let's pick up our discussion tomorrow.
8 : to bring within range of hearing
  • My radio picks up foreign broadcasts.
9 : to gain or get back speed or strength
  • The wind is picking up.

2

pick

noun

Definition of pick for Students

1 : a heavy tool with a wooden handle and a blade pointed at one or both ends for loosening or breaking up soil or rock
2 : a slender pointed instrument
  • ice pick
3 : a thin piece of metal or plastic used to pluck the strings of a musical instrument
4 : the act or opportunity of choosing
  • I had my pick of flavors.
5 : 1choice 3
  • Who's your pick to win?
6 : the best ones
  • the pick of the crop


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

of very fine texture or delicate form

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu-jedi-training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!