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From Middle English likken, from Old English liccian, from Proto-Germanic *likkōną (compare Saterland Frisian likje, Dutch likken, German lecken), from Proto-Indo-European *leyǵʰ- (compare Old Irish ligid, Latin lingō (lick), ligguriō (to lap, lick up), Lithuanian laižyti, Old Church Slavonic лизати (lizati), Ancient Greek λείχω (leíkhō), Old Armenian լիզեմ (lizem), Persian لیسیدن (lisidan), Sanskrit लेढि (léḍhi), रेढि (réḍhi)).



Yellow River in rural Indiana, USA - example of a lick.

lick (plural licks)

  1. The act of licking; a stroke of the tongue.
    The cat gave its fur a lick.
  2. The amount of some substance obtainable with a single lick.
    Give me a lick of ice cream.
  3. A quick and careless application of anything, as if by a stroke of the tongue, or of something which acts like a tongue.
    a lick of paint; to put on colours with a lick of the brush
    • Gray
      a lick of court white wash
  4. A place where animals lick minerals from the ground.
    The birds gathered at the clay lick.
  5. A small watercourse or ephemeral stream. It ranks between a rill and a stream.
    We used to play in the lick.
  6. (colloquial) A stroke or blow.
    Hit that wedge a good lick with the sledgehammer.
  7. (colloquial) A bit.
    You don't have a lick of sense.
    I didn't do a lick of work today.
  8. (music) A short motif.
    There are some really good blues licks in this solo.
  9. Speed. (Always qualified by good, fair, or a similar adjective.)
    The bus was travelling at a good lick when it swerved and left the road.
  10. (slang) An act of cunnilingus
    You up for a lick tonight?




lick (third-person singular simple present licks, present participle licking, simple past and past participle licked)

  1. (transitive) To stroke with the tongue.
    The cat licked its fur.
  2. (transitive) To lap; to take in with the tongue.
    She licked the last of the honey off the spoon before washing it.
  3. (colloquial) To defeat decisively, particularly in a fight.
    My dad can lick your dad.
  4. (colloquial) To overcome.
    I think I can lick this.
  5. (vulgar, slang) To perform cunnilingus.
  6. (colloquial) To do anything partially.
  7. (of flame, waves etc.) To lap
    • 1895, H. G. Wells, The Time Machine Chapter XI
      Now, in this decadent age the art of fire-making had been altogether forgotten on the earth. The red tongues that went licking up my heap of wood were an altogether new and strange thing to Weena.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Derived terms[edit]