pick out

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pick +‎ out. Compare Saterland Frisian uutpikke (to pick out), Dutch uitpikken (to pick out).


  • (file)


pick out (third-person singular simple present picks out, present participle picking out, simple past and past participle picked out)

  1. (transitive) To remove by picking.
    • c. 1515–1516, published 1568, John Skelton, Againſt venemous tongues enpoyſoned with ſclaunder and falſe detractions &c.:
      But lering and lurking here and there like ſpies,
      The devil tere their tunges and pike out their ies!
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities:
      Madame Defarge herself picked out the pattern on her sleeve with her toothpick, and saw and heard something inaudible and invisible a long way off.
  2. (transitive) To select.
    • 2014 November 2, Daniel Taylor, “Sergio Agüero strike wins derby for Manchester City against 10-man United”, in guardian.co.uk[1]:
      Oliver had an erratic and often bewildering afternoon and, just to pick out one incident, the images of Joe Hart putting his forehead uncomfortably close to the official are certainly far from the norm.
    • 2007, Letticia, Body Worship, page 192:
      Very often husbands would patronise my boutique and pick out something for the little lady and, in passing, pick out something for themselves.
  3. (transitive, idiomatic) To distinguish; discern.
    • 1988 April 30, “Bonaventure Island a birdwatcher's delight 50,000 gannets jostle and spar for a piece of the island”, in Toronto Star[2]:
      The young birds cry out for food, and the parents returning from the sea manage to pick out their own amid a mass of lookalikes.
  4. (transitive) To ornament or relieve with lines etc. of a different, usually lighter, colour.
    a dark green carriage body picked out with red
    • 1911, Chesterton, “The Sins of Prince Saradine”, in The Innocence of Father Brown:
      Away on the farthest cape or headland of the long islet, on a strip of turf beyond the last rank of roses, the duellists had already crossed swords. Evening above them was a dome of virgin gold, and, distant as they were, every detail was picked out.
  5. (transitive, idiomatic) To detect using one's senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste).
  6. (transitive, idiomatic, soccer) To send a long pass or cross to.
    • 2006 December 26, “Bolton Wanderers vs Newcastle United”, in 4TheGame[3], archived from the original on 14 April 2008:
      Ameobi skipped away down the left in the 39th minute and tried to pick out Shearer with a cross but his delivery was cut out by goalkeeper Jussi J...

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