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From French piquet, from piquer (to pierce).


A white picket fence (def. 1)
Pickets (noun def. 6) picket (verb) in front of the BBC during a strike in May 2005.


picket (plural pickets)

  1. A stake driven into the ground.
    a picket fence
  2. (historical) A type of punishment by which an offender had to rest his or her entire body weight on the top of a small stake.
  3. A tool in mountaineering that is driven into the snow and used as an anchor or to arrest falls.
  4. (military) Soldiers or troops placed on a line forward of a position to warn against an enemy advance. It can also refer to any unit (for example, an aircraft or ship) performing a similar function.
    • 1990, Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game, Folio Society 2010, p. 59:
      So confident was he that he ignored the warning of his two British advisers to post pickets to watch the river, and even withdrew those they had placed there.
  5. A sentry. Can be used figuratively.
    • 1907, Harold Bindloss, chapter 26, in The Dust of Conflict:
      Maccario, it was evident, did not care to take the risk of blundering upon a picket, and a man led them by twisting paths until at last the hacienda rose blackly before them.
  6. A protester positioned outside an office, workplace etc. during a strike (usually in plural); also the protest itself.
    Pickets normally endeavor to be non-violent.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 22, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      In the autumn there was a row at some cement works about the unskilled labour men. A union had just been started for them and all but a few joined. One of these blacklegs was laid for by a picket and knocked out of time.
  7. (card games) The card game piquet.



picket (third-person singular simple present pickets, present participle picketing, simple past and past participle picketed)

  1. (intransitive) To protest, organized by a labour union, typically in front of the location of employment.
  2. (transitive) To enclose or fortify with pickets or pointed stakes.
  3. (transitive) To tether to, or as if to, a picket.
    to picket a horse
  4. (transitive) To guard, as a camp or road, by an outlying picket.
  5. (obsolete, transitive) To torture by forcing to stand with one foot on a pointed stake.

Derived terms[edit]




  1. Second-person plural subjunctive I of picken.