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

  • n. Slang A detective.
  • n. Chiefly British A fellow; a guy.
  • n. Vulgar A penis.
  • n. Vulgar A person, especially a man, regarded as mean or contemptible.
  • transitive v. Vulgar To take advantage of; cheat.
  • transitive v. Vulgar To have sexual intercourse with.
  • dick around Vulgar To spend time idly; fool around.
  • dick around Vulgar To be sexually promiscuous.
  • dick up Vulgar To botch or bungle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A male person.
  • n. The penis.
  • n. A highly contemptible person.
  • n. absolutely nothing.
  • v. To waste time, to goof off.
  • v. To have sexual intercourse with.
  • n. A detective.
  • n. A declaration.
  • n. (dialect) ten in Cumbrian sheep counting


Shortening and alteration of detective.
From Dick, nickname for Richard.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Ultimately from Dick, pet form of the name Richard. The name Dick came to mean 'everyman', from which the word acquired other meanings. (Wiktionary)
A shortening and alteration of de(t)ec(tive). (Wiktionary)
A shortening and alteration of dec(laration). (Wiktionary)



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  • "okay," he said. "But don't dick me, Jacob. You know the cause-and-effect reality."

    March 24, 2012

  • "I swear I could not for a second view these people as anything but human. The best way to fashion a young hard dick like myself -- dick being an acronym for 'dedicated infantry combat killer' -- is simple and the effect of racist indoctrination. Take an empty shell off the streets of L.A. or Brooklyn, or maybe from some Podunk town in Tennessee… and these days America isn't in short supply… I was one of those no-child-left-behind products…
    Anyway, you take this empty vessel and you scare the living shit out of him, break him down to nothing, cultivate a brotherhood and camaraderie with those he suffers with, and fill his head with racist nonsense like all Arabs, Iraqis, Afghans are Hajj. Hajj hates you. Hajj wants to hurt your family. Hajj children are the worst because they beg all the time. Just some of the most hurtful and ridiculous propaganda, but you'd be amazed at how effective it's been in fostering my generation of soldiers."
    - 'Jules', quoted in Tariq Ali, 'Operation Enduring Disaster', 16 Nov 2008.

    November 17, 2008

  • According to, the definition you're thinking of is #2. That can't be right, either.

    November 6, 2007

  • You're speaking about "detective," aren't you, John? :)

    November 4, 2007

  • I hadn't realized WordNet was such a prude; its definition is certainly not the most common usage.

    November 4, 2007

  • Why have I lived this long without knowing this phrase?!

    November 4, 2007

  • British slang for "never," from the saying "That happened in the reign of Queen Dick."

    November 4, 2007