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From French piquet, from piquer (to pierce).


  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪkɪt
A white picket fence (def. 1)
Pickets (noun def. 6) picket (verb) in front of the BBC during a strike in May 2005.


picket (countable and uncountable, 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) One of the soldiers or troops placed on a line forward of a position to warn against an enemy advance; or 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. (sometimes figuratively) A sentry.
    • 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, uncountable) 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.