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

  • transitive v. To pass the tongue over or along: lick a stamp.
  • transitive v. To lap up.
  • transitive v. To lap or flicker at like a tongue: The waves licked the sides of the boat.
  • transitive v. Slang To punish with a beating; thrash.
  • transitive v. Slang To get the better of; defeat: licked her weight problem.
  • intransitive v. To pass or lap quickly and rapidly: The flames licked at our feet.
  • n. The act or process of licking.
  • n. An amount obtained by licking: a lick of ice cream.
  • n. A small quantity; a bit: hasn't got a lick of common sense.
  • n. A deposit of exposed natural salt that is licked by passing animals.
  • n. A sudden hard stroke; a blow.
  • n. An attempt; a try.
  • n. Informal Speed; pace: moving along at a good lick.
  • n. Music A phrase improvised by a soloist, especially on the guitar or banjo.
  • idiom lick and a promise A superficial effort made without care or enthusiasm.
  • idiom lick into shape Informal To bring into satisfactory condition or appearance.
  • idiom lick (one's) chops To anticipate delightedly.
  • idiom lick (one's) wounds To recuperate after a defeat.
  • idiom lick (someone's) boots To behave in a servile or obsequious manner toward someone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To stroke with the tongue.
  • v. To defeat decisively, particularly in a fight.
  • v. To overcome.
  • v. To perform cunnilingus.
  • v. To do anything partially.
  • v. To lap
  • n. The act of licking.
  • n. The amount of some substance obtainable with a single lick.
  • n. A place where animals lick minerals from the ground.
  • n. A small watercourse or ephemeral stream. It ranks between a rill and a stream.
  • n. A stroke or blow.
  • n. A bit.
  • n. A short motif.
  • n. speed. In this sense it is always qualified by good, or fair or a similar adjective.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A stroke of the tongue in licking.
  • n. A quick and careless application of anything, as if by a stroke of the tongue, or of something which acts like a tongue. Also, a small quantity of any substance so applied.
  • n. A place where salt is found on the surface of the earth, to which wild animals resort to lick it up; -- often, but not always, near salt springs. Called also salt lick.
  • n. A slap; a quick stroke.
  • transitive v. To draw or pass the tongue over.
  • transitive v. To lap; to take in with the tongue.
  • transitive v. To strike with repeated blows for punishment; to flog; to whip or conquer, as in a pugilistic encounter.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To pass or draw the tongue over the surface of; rub with the tongue.
  • To take into the mouth by lapping with the tongue; lap.
  • To strike repeatedly by way of punishment; flog; chastise with blows; beat.
  • Hence To “beat” or overcome; gain a victory over; surpass; excel.
  • In mech.: To catch and retain (fiber), as the rollers of drawing-frames in a damp atmosphere.
  • To lap or scoop up; wipe off or transfer by intermittent contact, as in the device for lubrication called a licker.
  • To take up gradually and feed (fiber) into a carding-machine: said of the action of the card called the licker-in.
  • To prostrate one's self on the ground in token of utter submission; act abjectly and servilely.
  • To gain the victory; be victorious: as, who licked?
  • To tear along; ride at full gallop.
  • n. A rubbing or drawing of the tongue over something.
  • n. A slight smear or coat, as of paint.
  • n. A small quantity; as much as can be taken up by the tongue: as, a lick of sugar or of oatmeal.
  • n. A place where salt is deposited at salt-springs, and where animals come, or might come, to lick it.
  • n. A blow; a stroke; hence, a trial or essay.
  • n. plural A beating.
  • n. An aberration of the appetite, with a morbid desire to eat foreign substances having no food value, which attacks nearly all the domestic animals. In the ox it is called pica, in the sheep wool-eating, etc.

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

  • v. find the solution to (a problem or question) or understand the meaning of
  • v. take up with the tongue
  • n. (boxing) a blow with the fist
  • n. a salt deposit that animals regularly lick
  • v. pass the tongue over
  • v. beat thoroughly and conclusively in a competition or fight
  • n. touching with the tongue


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

Middle English licken, from Old English liccian; see leigh- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English liccian, from Proto-Germanic *likkōnan (compare East Frisian likje, Dutch likken, German lecken), from Proto-Indo-European *leiǵʰ- (compare Old Irish ligid, Latin lingō ("lick"), ligguriō ("to lap, lick up"), Lithuanian laižyti, Old Church Slavonic лизати (lizati), Ancient Greek λείχω (leíkhō), Old Armenian լիզեմ (lizem), Persian لیسیدن (lisidan), Sanskrit लेढि (léḍhi), रेढि (réḍhi)).


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  • Contronymic in the sense: like (as ice cream) vs. dislike (beat up).

    January 27, 2007