noun (1)
\ ˈspīk How to pronounce spike (audio) \
plural spikes

Definition of spike

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a very large nail
2a : 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)
6a : a pointed element in a graph or tracing
b : an unusually high and sharply defined maximum (as of amplitude in a wave train)
7 slang : hypodermic needle
8 : a momentary sharp increase and fall in electric potential also : action potential
9 : an abrupt sharp increase (as in prices or rates) a spike in unemployment a spike in the number of infections


spiked; spiking

Definition of spike (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to fasten or furnish with spikes
2a : to disable (a muzzle-loading cannon) temporarily by driving a spike into the vent
b : to suppress or block completely spiked the rumor
3a : to pierce or impale with or on a spike
b : to reject (a story) for publication or broadcast for editorial reasons
4a : 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


noun (2)

Definition of spike (Entry 3 of 3)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from spike

Noun (1)

spikelike \ ˈspīk-​ˌlīk How to pronounce spike (audio) \ adjective


spiker noun

Examples of spike in a Sentence

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.
See More

First Known Use of spike

Noun (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1624, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spike

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About spike

Time Traveler for spike

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near spike




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for spike

Cite this Entry

“Spike.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spike. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spike



English Language Learners Definition of spike

: to add alcohol or drugs to (food or drink)
: to add something that gives flavor or interest to (something)
: to increase greatly in a short period of time


\ ˈspīk How to pronounce spike (audio) \

Kids Definition of spike

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a very large nail
2 : something pointed like a nail She even wanted to forget … her horrible hair, now drying into stiff spikes.— Beverly Cleary, Ramona Quimby, Age 8
3 : one of the metal objects attached to the heel and sole of a shoe (as a baseball shoe) to prevent slipping


spiked; spiking

Kids Definition of spike (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to fasten with large nails
2 : to pierce or cut with or on a large nail
3 : to hit or throw (a ball) sharply downward
4 : to add alcohol or drugs to



Kids Definition of spike (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a tight mass of grain spikes of wheat
2 : a long usually rather narrow flower cluster in which the blossoms grow very close to a central stem


\ ˈspīk How to pronounce spike (audio) \

Medical Definition of spike

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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


transitive verb
spiked; spiking

Medical Definition of spike (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

Nglish: Translation of spike for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spike for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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