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See also: Pike and pikë


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A modern recreation of a mid-17th century company of pikemen.

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English pike, pyke, pyk ‎(a pike, sharp point, iron tip of a staff or spear), from Old English pīc ‎(pointed object, pick axe),[1] and Middle French pique ‎(long thrusting weapon), from Old French pic ‎(sharp point); both ultimately from Proto-Germanic *pīkaz, *pīkō ‎(sharp point, pike, peak), related to pick, with meaning narrowed.

Cognate with Dutch piek, dialectal German Peik, Norwegian pik. Doublet of pique.



pike ‎(plural pikes)

  1. A very long thrusting spear used two-handed by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. The pike is not intended to be thrown.
    • 1790, James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile
      Each had a small ax in the foreangle of his saddle, and a pike about fourteen feet long, the weapon with which he charged;
  2. A sharp point, such as that of the weapon.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Beaumont and Fletcher to this entry?)
  3. Any carnivorous freshwater fish of the genus Esox, especially the northern pike, Esox lucius.
  4. A turnpike.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Charles Dickens to this entry?)
  5. A pointy extrusion at the toe of a shoe, found in old-fashioned footwear.
    • 1861, The comprehensive history of England Vol. 1
      During the earlier part of this period, the long pike disappeared from the shoe, but in the later part it returned in greater longitude than ever.
    • 1904, George Nicholls, A History of the English Poor Law in Connection with the State of the Country and the Condition of the People
      Thus the statute of Edward the Fourth, which forbade the fine gentlemen of those times, under the degree of a lord, to wear pikes upon their shoes or boots of more than two inches in length, was a law that savoured of oppression, because, however ridiculous the fashion might appear, the restraining of it by pecuniary penalties would serve no purpose of common utility.
  6. (gymnastics, diving) A position with knees straight and a tight bend at the hips.
    • 2000, JG Ballard, Super-Cannes, Fourth Estate 2011, p. 167:
      She sprang into the air and jack-knifed into a clumsy pike before following her hands into the water.
    • 2008, The Sports Network (TSN), China wins first diving medal at Beijing Olympics Aug 10 2008 [1]
      Guo and Wu took a big lead after the second dive, a back dive in pike position, which the judges awarded three perfect tens for synchronization.
  7. (obsolete, Britain, dialect) A hayfork.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Tusser to this entry?)
  8. (obsolete) A pick.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Raymond to this entry?)
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wright to this entry?)
  9. A large haycock.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Halliwell to this entry?)
Derived terms[edit]


pike ‎(third-person singular simple present pikes, present participle piking, simple past and past participle piked)

  1. (transitive) To attack, prod, or injure someone with a pike.
  2. (Australia, New Zealand, slang, often with "on" or "out") To quit or back out of a promise.
    Don't pike on me like you did last time!
    • 2002, Sylvia Lawson, How Simone De Beauvoir Died in Australia, page 151,
      —But Camus piked out, said Carole. Sartre and that lot got pissed off with him, he stood off from the war, he wouldn′t oppose it.
    • 2006, Pip Wilson, Faces in the Street: Louisa and Henry Lawson and the Castlereagh Street Push, page 543,
      Holman accepted the challenge while Norton ‘piked out’; nevertheless Holman won Cootamundra against a strong candidate.
    • 2008, Chris Pash, The Last Whale, Fremantle Press, Australia, page 36,
      If they didn′t go ahead, it would look like they had piked, backed down.
  3. (gymnastics) to close (flex) hips.

Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Perhaps a special use of Etymology 1, above; or from an early Scandinavian language, compare Norwegian pik ‎(summit).



pike ‎(plural pikes)

  1. (now Britain regional) A mountain peak or summit.


  1. ^ pike” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).


Norwegian Bokmål[edit]


From Old Norse píka, probably from Finnish.


pike f, m ‎(definite singular pika or piken, indefinite plural piker, definite plural pikene)

  1. girl

Usage notes[edit]

Jente is the standard appellation for girl in Norwegian, however, pike may also be used observing its somewhat conservative tint.


Derived terms[edit]