verb (used with object)
to pass the tongue over the surface of, as to moisten, taste, or eat (often followed by up, off, from, etc.):
to lick a postage stamp; to lick an ice-cream cone.
to make, or cause to become, by stroking with the tongue:
to lick a spoon clean.
(of waves, flames, etc.) to pass or play lightly over:
The flame licked the dry timber.
verb (used without object)
to move quickly or lightly.
a stroke of the tongue over something.
as much as can be taken up by one stroke of the tongue.
Usually, licks. a critical or complaining remark.
Usually, licks. Jazz Slang. a musical phrase, as by a soloist in improvising.
lick up, to lap up; devour greedily.
last licks, a final turn or opportunity:
We got in our last licks on the tennis court before the vacation ended.
lick and a promise, a hasty and perfunctory performance in doing something:
I didn’t have time to clean thoroughly, so I gave the room a lick and a promise.
lick ass, Slang: Vulgar. (def 18).
lick into shape, Informal. to bring to completion or perfection through discipline, hard work, etc.:
They needed another rehearsal to lick the production into shape.
lick one’s chops. 3 (def 7).
lick one’s wounds. 1 (def 6).
lick the dust. (def 24).
(transitive) to pass the tongue over, esp in order to taste or consume
to flicker or move lightly over or round (something): the flames licked around the door
lick into shape, to put into a satisfactory condition: from the former belief that bear cubs were born formless and had to be licked into shape by their mother
lick one’s lips, to anticipate or recall something with glee or relish
lick one’s wounds, to retire after a defeat or setback in order to husband one’s resources
lick the boots of, See boot1 (sense 14)
an instance of passing the tongue over something
a small amount: a lick of paint
Also called salt lick. a block of compressed salt or chemical matter provided for domestic animals to lick for medicinal and nutritional purposes
a place to which animals go to lick exposed natural deposits of salt
(informal) a hit; blow
(slang) a short musical phrase, usually on one instrument
(informal) speed; rate of movement: he was going at quite a lick when he hit it
a lick and a promise, something hastily done, esp a hurried wash
Old English liccian “to pass the tongue over the surface, lap, lick up,” from Proto-Germanic *likkon (cf. Old Saxon likkon, Dutch likken, Old High German lecchon, German lecken, Gothic bi-laigon), from PIE imitative base *leigh- (cf. Sanskrit ledhi “he licks,” Armenian lizum “I lick,” Greek leikhein “to lick,” Latin lingere “to lick,” Old Irish ligim “I lick,” Welsh llwy “spoon”). French lécher is a Germanic loan word.
To lick (someone or something) into shape (1610s) is in reference to the supposed ways of bears:
Beres ben brought forthe al fowle and transformyd and after that by lyckyng of the fader and the moder they ben brought in to theyr kyndely shap. [“The Pylgremage of the Sowle,” 1413]
“to beat,” 1535, perhaps from figurative use of lick (v.1) in the Coverdale bible that year in sense of “defeat, annihilate” (an enemy’s forces) in Num. xxii:4:
Now shal this heape licke up all that is about vs, euen as an oxe licketh vp the grasse in the field.
But to lick (of) the whip “taste punishment” is attested from mid-15c.
“an act of licking,” c.1600, from lick (v.1). Meaning “small portion” is 1814, originally Scottish; hence U.S. colloquial sense. Sense of “place where an animal goes to lick salt” is from 1747. The jazz music sense of “short figure or solo” is by 1922.
hit it a lick
[lik] /lɪk/ verb (used with object) 1. to pass the tongue over the surface of, as to moisten, taste, or eat (often followed by up, off, from, etc.): to lick a postage stamp; to lick an ice-cream cone. 2. to make, or cause to become, by stroking with the tongue: to lick a spoon clean. […]
adjective 1. (Irish, informal) very similar: he and his father are lick-alike
[lik-er-in] /ˈlɪk ərˈɪn/ noun 1. a roller on a carding machine, especially the roller that opens the stock as it is fed into the card and transfers the fibers to the main cylinder.
[lik-er-ish] /ˈlɪk ər ɪʃ/ adjective, Archaic. 1. fond of and eager for choice food. 2. greedy; longing. 3. lustful; lecherous. /ˈlɪkərɪʃ/ adjective (archaic) 1. lecherous or lustful 2. greedy; gluttonous 3. appetizing or tempting adj. “fond of delicious fare,” c.1500, from Middle English likerous “pleasing to the palate” (late 13c.), from Anglo-French *likerous, Old French […]