Definitions

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

  • n. A horseman in a bullfight who lances the bull's neck muscles so that it will tend to keep its head low for the later stages of the fight.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A lancer mounted on horseback who assists a matador.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A horseman armed with a lance, who in a bullfight receives the first attack of the bull, and excites him by picking him without attempting to kill him.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In bull-fighting, one of the horsemen armed with a lance who commence the combat in the arena by pricking the bull to madness with their weapons, but purposely avoid disabling him.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the horseman who pricks the bull with a lance early in the bullfight to goad the bull and to make it keep its head low

Etymologies

Spanish, from picar, to prick; see picaro.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Spanish picador ("stinger") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • While the picador is relatively safe, not so the horse, because the bull sometimes hooks a horn up under the blanket to endanger the unprotected underbelly.

    There is no such thing as a bullfight

  • "Not quite so," said I. "The lance of the picador is to keep the bull from goring the horse."

    The Madness of John Harned

  • The horse on which the picador is mounted is bought only to be killed.

    Six Months in Mexico

  • There was funding for a lance-wielding horseman - or 'picador' - but only on one of the two days.

    BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition

  • The bull charged, and of course the horse knew nothing till the picador failed and the horse found himself impaled on the bull's horns from beneath.

    The Madness of John Harned

  • It lifted the horse clear into the air; and as the horse fell to its side on on the ground the picador landed on his feet and escaped, while the capadors lured the bull away.

    The Madness of John Harned

  • Labour's ex-future leader was there to show Miliband how to do opposition while the chancellor braced himself to play the smirking picador to Balls's raging bull.

    Ed Balls to George Osborne's rescue

  • And then there was the notable exception of Picasso who, sui generis, seemed more a disembodied spirit of creative freedom and not just the matador shagging the pulchritudinous Dora and playing the picador to the imperious bullshit artist Sartre.

    James Scarborough: "Leiris/Picasso," The Bootleg Theater

  • India was determined not to become a blind bull to his picador.

    One Flight Up

  • Juan, who went by El Pescador, fought for fifteen years, first as a picador, then in ferias in the south, then in the bloodless fights for the cruise ship tourists in Baja, before retiring to the guava orchards of Ronda.

    Carlos The Impossible (Part 1)

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  • phrase heard on the Monte hall show

    October 13, 2007