from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A shallow notch, cut, or indentation on an edge or a surface.
  • noun Chiefly British Slang A prison or police station.
  • noun Printing A groove down the side of a piece of type used to ensure that it is correctly placed.
  • transitive verb To cut a nick or notch in.
  • transitive verb To cut into and wound slightly.
  • transitive verb To cut short; check.
  • transitive verb Slang To cheat, especially by overcharging.
  • transitive verb To steal.
  • transitive verb To arrest.
  • idiom (in the nick of time) Just at the critical moment; just in time.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make a nick or notch in; notch; cut or mark with nicks or notches.
  • To sever with a snip or single cut, as with shears.
  • To cut short; abridge. See nick, n., 3.
  • To break or crack; smash as the nickers used to do. See nicker, 2.
  • In coal-mining, to cut (the coal) on the side, after kirving, holing, or undercutting.
  • noun The devil: usually with the addition of Old.
  • To strike or hit right; hit or hit upon exactly; fit into; suit.
  • In gaming, to throw or turn up; hit or hit upon.
  • To delude or deceive; cozen; cheat, as at dice.
  • To catch in the act.
  • To fit; unite or combine; be adapted for combining: said, in stock-breeding, of the crossing of one strain of blood with another.
  • To suit; compare; be comparable.
  • In the game of hazard, to throw a winning number. Compare nick, n., 3.
  • To bet; gamble.
  • To nickname; hence, to annoy or tease by nicknaming.
  • To nod; wink.
  • noun A hollow cut or slight depression made in the surface of anything; a notch.
  • noun A score or reckoning: so called from the old practice of keeping reckonings on tallies or notched sticks.
  • noun A false bottom in a beer-can, by which customers were cheated, the nick below and the froth above filling up part of the measure.
  • noun In craps, a throw of 7 or 11, which wins all the stakes for the caster immediately.
  • noun In type-founding, a small groove, made by the mold on the front side and lower part of the body of American type.
  • noun In violin-making, one of the little notches cut midway in the side of an f-hole or sound-hole, to indicate the proper location for the bridge.
  • noun In lumbering, same as undercut, 2.
  • noun Point, especially point of time: as, in the nick of—that is, on the point of (being or doing something).
  • noun The exact point (of time) which accords with or is demanded by the necessities of the case; the critical or right moment; the very moment: used chiefly in the phrases in the nick or in the nick of time—that is, at the right moment, just when most needed or demanded.
  • noun A lucky or winning throw in the game of hazard: as, eleven is the nick to seven. See hazard, 1.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To nickname; to style.
  • noun (Northern Myth.) An evil spirit of the waters.
  • noun [Colloq.] the evil one; the devil.
  • transitive verb To make a nick or nicks in; to notch; to keep count of or upon by nicks
  • transitive verb To mar; to deface; to make ragged, as by cutting nicks or notches in; to create a nick{2} in, deliberately or accidentally.
  • transitive verb To suit or fit into, as by a correspondence of nicks; to tally with.
  • transitive verb To hit at, or in, the nick; to touch rightly; to strike at the precise point or time.
  • transitive verb To make a cross cut or cuts on the under side of (the tail of a horse, in order to make him carry it higher).
  • noun obsolete, obsolete A notch cut into something.
  • noun obsolete A score for keeping an account; a reckoning.
  • noun (Print.) A notch cut crosswise in the shank of a type, to assist a compositor in placing it properly in the stick, and in distribution.
  • noun A broken or indented place in any edge or surface.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English nik, possibly alteration (influenced by nokke, notch) of niche; see niche.]


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word nick.


  • _Nick, nick, nick, nick_ -- the nearly forgotten sound that used to rise in early morning from the kitchen before a fire could be lit -- and _nick, nick, nick, nick_ again, here in the narrow opening, where the rays of sunshine shot down and made the sparks which flew from flint and steel look pale as they shot downward at every stroke the lad gave.

    Cormorant Crag A Tale of the Smuggling Days George Manville Fenn 1870

  • _Nick, nick, nick, nick_, went the flint against the steel; and the boy watched the sparks flying till one of them seemed to settle lightly in the priest's tinder-box, and the next minute that single spark began to glow as the old man deliberately breathed upon it till the tinder grew plain before the watcher's eyes, and the shape of the old man's bald head, with its roll of fat across the back of the neck, stood out like a silhouette.

    !Tention A Story of Boy-Life during the Peninsular War George Manville Fenn 1870

  • (nick)! kick (nick)! ban (nick). msg $nick! owner! google (search for).

    Blogbot - forsiden 2009

  • Twenty years on, the nick is a retirement home and the three villages are now covered by a single panda from the ‘big’ town twelve miles away.

    The Revolving Door System. « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG Inspector Gadget 2009

  • If you are working tonight take care and my patent rain dance for performing in the back yard of your nick is available now … ..

    Best Of 2008 « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG Inspector Gadget 2008

  • I know his nick is short for “Melchior”, but I can’t help seeing the name of a certain Yankees player as “Melky Loads”.

    Yanks-Angels: Game 2 | ATTACKERMAN 2009

  • I might see all the artifacts that the Church somehow managed to nick from the Temple of Solomon, which will be particularly special to me as an archaeologist.

    Archive 2009-07-01 2009

  • My nick comes from a man who spent YEARS in prison for excersising his free speech rights.

    Think Progress » Anti-Obama billboards spring up in Atlanta. 2010

  • He fired a grenade launcher into a rock on the shore and received a nick from the flying rock.

    Think Progress » Kerry: ‘The only thing Republicans say yes to are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, tea partiers, and Fox News.’ 2010

  • I might see all the artifacts that the Church somehow managed to nick from the Temple of Solomon, which will be particularly special to me as an archaeologist.

    Deej to Seminary, Part 2 2009


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • proper name, noun and verb all in one.

    December 14, 2006

  • as is mark.

    December 14, 2006

  • "Auld Nick's a Piper" is a song by Albannach.

    February 9, 2008

  • Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys

    February 9, 2008