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See also: Pickle



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English pikel, pykyl, pekille, pigell (spicy sauce served with meat or fish), from pekel (brine). Cognate with Scots pikkill (salt liquor, brine), Saterland Frisian pekel, päkel (pickle, brine), Dutch pekel (pickle, brine), Low German pekel, peckel, pickel, bickel (pickle, brine), German Pökel (pickle, brine).

Alternative forms[edit]


a jar of pickles

pickle (plural pickles)

  1. A cucumber preserved in a solution, usually a brine or a vinegar syrup.
    A pickle goes well with a hamburger.
  2. (often in the plural) Any vegetable preserved in vinegar and consumed as relish.
  3. The brine used for preserving food.
    This tub is filled with the pickle that we will put the small cucumbers into.
  4. (informal) A difficult situation; peril.
    The climber found himself in a pickle when one of the rocks broke off.
  5. (affectionate) A mildly mischievous loved one.
    • 1867, Polly Stubbs, Nursery times; or, Stories about the little ones, by an old nurse, page 143:
      by degrees my little pickle (who, as I told you at the beginning of the story, was the most troublesome child I ever came across) turned into a very well-behaved young gentleman.
    • 1885, Eleanor A. Bulley, Great Britain for little Britons‎, page 116:
      ... If you could get my little pickle to learn his multiplication table before you leave us, you shall have that musical box to take home with you.
    • 1965, Eric Malpass, Morning's at seven‎, page 43:
      'And now,' she said, 'what about that kiss my little pickle was going to give his old Auntie?'
  6. (baseball) A rundown.
    Jones was caught in a pickle between second and third.
  7. A children’s game with three participants that emulates a baseball rundown
    The boys played pickle in the front yard for an hour.
  8. (slang) A penis.
  9. (slang) A pipe for smoking methamphetamine.
    Load some shards in that pickle.
  10. (metalworking) A bath of dilute sulphuric or nitric acid, etc., to remove burnt sand, scale, rust, etc., from the surface of castings, or other articles of metal, or to brighten them or improve their colour.
  11. In an optical landing system, the hand-held controller connected to the lens, or apparatus on which the lights are mounted.
Derived terms[edit]
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.
See also[edit]


pickle (third-person singular simple present pickles, present participle pickling, simple past and past participle pickled)

  1. (transitive, ergative) To preserve food in a salt, sugar or vinegar solution.
    We pickled the remainder of the crop.
    These cucumbers pickle very well.
  2. (transitive) To remove high-temperature scale and oxidation from metal with heated (often sulphuric) industrial acid.
    The crew will pickle the fittings in the morning.
  3. (programming) (in the Python programming language) To serialize.
    • 2005, Peter Norton et al, Beginning Python
      You can now restore the pickled data. If you like, close your Python interpreter and open a new instance, to convince yourself []
    • 2008, Marty Alchin, Pro Django
      To illustrate how this would work in practice, consider a field designed to store and retrieve a pickled copy of any arbitrary Python object.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Perhaps from Scottish pickle, apparently from pick +‎ -le (diminutive suffix). Compare Scots pickil.


pickle (plural pickles)

  1. (Northern England, Scotland) A kernel; a grain (of salt, sugar, etc.)
  2. (Northern England, Scotland) A small or indefinite quantity or amount (of something); a little, a bit, a few. Usually in partitive construction, frequently without "of"; a single grain or kernel of wheat, barley, oats, sand or dust.
    • Robert Louis Stevenson, Thrawn Janet
      [] ill things are like guid—they baith come bit by bit, a pickle at a time []