verb (1)
\ ˈpik How to pronounce pick (audio) \
picked; picking; picks

Definition of pick

 (Entry 1 of 5)

transitive verb

1 : to pierce, penetrate, or break up with a pointed instrument picked the hard clay
2a : to remove bit by bit pick meat from bones
b : to remove covering or adhering matter from pick the bones
3a : 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
4a : 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
6a : 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


noun (1)

Definition of pick (Entry 2 of 5)

1 : a blow or stroke with a pointed instrument
2a : 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


noun (2)

Definition of pick (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : a heavy, usually long-handled iron or steel tool pointed at one or both ends — compare mattock
2a : 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


verb (2)
picked; picking; picks

Definition of pick (Entry 4 of 5)

transitive verb

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


noun (3)

Definition of pick (Entry 5 of 5)

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

Illustration of pick

Illustration of pick

Noun (2)

pick 2c

In the meaning defined above

First Known Use of pick

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (3)

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for pick

Verb (1)

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

Noun (2)

Middle English pik

Verb (2)

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

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Time Traveler for pick

Time Traveler

The first known use of pick was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Pick.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pick. Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for pick


\ ˈpik How to pronounce pick (audio) \
picked; picking

Kids Definition of pick

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 sense 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
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 sense 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.

Other Words from pick

picker noun



Kids Definition of pick (Entry 2 of 2)

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 : choice entry 1 sense 3 Who's your pick to win?
6 : the best ones the pick of the crop

More from Merriam-Webster on pick

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pick

Nglish: Translation of pick for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pick for Arabic Speakers


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