spike

1 of 3

noun (1)

plural spikes
1
: a very large nail
2
a
: one of a row of pointed irons placed (as on the top of a wall) to prevent passage
b(1)
: one of several metal projections set in the sole and heel of a shoe to improve traction
(2)
spikes plural : a pair of shoes having spikes attached to the soles or soles and heels
They met when after a round of golf he came into the restaurant at which she worked—still wearing his golf spikes. John Strege
3
: something resembling a spike: such as
a
: a young mackerel not over six inches (15.2 centimeters) long
b
: an unbranched antler of a young deer
c
: spike protein
Without its spikes, the pathogen can't get into human cells. Katherine J. Wu
4
spikes plural : spike heel sense 2
5
: the act or an instance of spiking (as in volleyball)
6
a
: a pointed element in a graph or tracing
b
: an unusually high and sharply defined maximum (as of amplitude in a wave train)
7
8
: a momentary sharp increase and fall in electric potential
9
: an abrupt sharp increase (as in prices or rates)
a spike in unemployment
a spike in the number of infections
spikelike adjective

spike

2 of 3

verb

spiked; spiking

transitive verb

1
: to fasten or furnish with spikes
2
a
: to disable (a muzzle-loading cannon) temporarily by driving a spike into the vent
b
: to suppress or block completely
spiked the rumor
3
a
: to pierce or impale with or on a spike
b
: to reject (a story) for publication or broadcast for editorial reasons
4
a
: to add an alcoholic beverage to (a drink)
spiked the punch
b
: to add a foreign substance to
spike the coffee with tranquilizers
c
: to add something highly reactive (such as a radioactive tracer) to
d
: to add vitality, zest, or spice to : liven
spiked the speech with humor
spike the broth with peppers
5
: to drive (something, such as a volleyball) sharply downward with a hard blow
also : to throw down sharply
spiked the ball in the end zone
6
: to undergo a sudden sharp increase in (temperature or fever)
the patient spiked a fever of 103°

intransitive verb

: to increase sharply
battery sales spiked after the storm
spiker noun

spike

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
: an ear of grain
2
: an elongated inflorescence similar to a raceme but having the flowers sessile on the main axis see inflorescence illustration

Example Sentences

Verb Someone spiked the punch at the party. The medication caused his blood pressure to spike. She spiked the ball and scored the winning point. After he scored a touchdown he spiked the ball in the end zone.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English, probably from Old Norse spīk splinter & spīkr spike; akin to Middle Dutch spiker spike — more at spoke

Noun (2)

Middle English spik, from Latin spica — more at spine

First Known Use

Noun (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1624, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of spike was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near spike

Cite this Entry

“Spike.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spike. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

spike

1 of 3 noun
1
: a very large nail
2
a
: one of the metal objects set in the sole and heel of a shoe (as a baseball shoe) to prevent slipping
b
plural : a pair of shoes having spikes
3
: an unbranched antler of a young deer
4
: the act or an instance of spiking (as in volleyball)
5
: a pointed element (as in a graph)

spike

2 of 3 verb
spiked; spiking
1
: to fasten or furnish with spikes
2
: to pierce or cut with or on a spike
3
: to add alcoholic liquor to a drink
4
: to drive (as a volleyball) sharply downward
5
: to increase sharply
battery sales spiked after the storm

spike

3 of 3 noun
1
: an ear of grain
2
: a long usually rather narrow cluster of flowers in which the blossoms grow close to the central stem

Medical Definition

spike

1 of 2 noun
: a change (as in voltage) involving a sharp increase and fall or a recording of this: as
a
: the pointed element in the wave tracing in an electroencephalogram
b
: a sharp increase in body temperature followed by a rapid fall
a fever with spikes to 103°
c(1)
: the sharp increase and fall in the recorded action potential of a stimulated nerve cell that during the increasing phase corresponds to an inrush of sodium ions to the interior of the cell and during the decreasing phase corresponds to a slowing of the influx of sodium ions and to an increasing efflux of potassium ions to the exterior

spike

2 of 2 transitive verb
spiked; spiking
: to undergo a sudden sharp increase in (temperature or fever) usually up to an indicated level
infected patients spiked fevers as high as 105°F

More from Merriam-Webster on spike

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ