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Be up to one’s neck

the part of the body of an animal or human being that connects the head and the trunk.
the part of a garment encircling, partly covering, or closest to the neck; neckline.
the length of the neck of a horse or other animal as a measure in racing.
the slender part near the top of a bottle, vase, or similar object.
any narrow, connecting, or projecting part suggesting the neck of an animal.
a narrow strip of land, as an isthmus or a cape.
a strait.
the longer and more slender part of a violin or similar stringed instrument, extending from the body to the head.
Building Trades, Machinery. the part on a shank of a bolt next to the head, especially when it has a special form.
Anatomy. a narrowed part of a bone, organ, or the like.
Dentistry. the slightly narrowed region of a tooth between the crown and the root.
Printing. beard (def 5).
Architecture. a cylindrical continuation of the shaft of a column above the lower astragal of the capital, as in the Roman Doric and Tuscan orders.
Also called volcanic neck. Geology. the solidified lava or igneous rock filling a conduit leading either to a vent of an extinct volcano or to a laccolith.
Informal. (of two persons) to embrace, kiss, and caress one another amorously.
Informal. to embrace, kiss, and caress (someone) amorously.
to strangle or behead.
be up to one’s neck, Informal. to have a surfeit; be overburdened:
Right now she’s up to her neck in work.
break one’s neck, Informal. to make a great effort:
We broke our necks to get there on time.
get it in the neck, Slang.

to suffer punishment or loss:
The trend is to consolidation and small businesses are getting it in the neck.
to be rejected or dismissed:
The employees got it in the neck when the company moved overseas.
to be sharply reprimanded or scolded.

neck and neck, even or very close; indeterminate as to the outcome:
They were coming toward the finish line neck and neck.
neck of the woods, Informal. neighborhood, area, or vicinity:
Next time you’re in this neck of the woods, drop in.
stick one’s neck out, Informal. to expose oneself to danger, disaster, failure, disgrace, etc.; take a risk:
He stuck his neck out by supporting an unpopular candidate.
win by a neck,

to win by a small amount or narrow margin.
Racing. to be first by a head and neck; finish closely.

the part of an organism connecting the head with the rest of the body related adjectives cervical jugular
the part of a garment around or nearest the neck
something resembling a neck in shape or position: the neck of a bottle
(anatomy) a constricted portion of an organ or part, such as the cervix of the uterus
a narrow or elongated projecting strip of land; a peninsula or isthmus
a strait or channel
the part of a violin, cello, etc, that extends from the body to the tuning pegs and supports the fingerboard
a solid block of lava from the opening of an extinct volcano, exposed after erosion of the surrounding rock
(botany) the upper, usually tubular, part of the archegonium of mosses, ferns, etc
the length of a horse’s head and neck taken as an approximate distance by which one horse beats another in a race: to win by a neck
(informal) a short distance, amount, or margin: he is always a neck ahead in new techniques
(informal) impudence; audacity: he had the neck to ask for a rise
(architect) the narrow band at the top of the shaft of a column between the necking and the capital, esp as used in the Tuscan order
another name for beard, on printer’s type
(informal) break one’s neck, to exert oneself greatly, esp by hurrying, in order to do something
(Irish & Scot, slang) by the neck, (of a bottle of beer) served unpoured: give me two bottles of stout by the neck
(informal) get it in the neck, to be reprimanded or punished severely
neck and neck, absolutely level or even in a race or competition
(informal) neck of the woods, an area or locality: a quiet neck of the woods
risk one’s neck, to take a great risk

save one’s neck, to escape from a difficult or dangerous situation
save someone’s neck, to help someone else escape from such a situation

(informal) stick one’s neck out, to risk criticism, ridicule, failure, etc, by speaking one’s mind
up to one’s neck in, deeply involved in: he’s up to his neck in dodgy dealings
(intransitive) (informal) to kiss, embrace, or fondle someone or one another passionately
(transitive) (Brit, informal) to swallow (something, esp a drink): he’s been necking pints all night

Old English hnecca “neck, nape, back of the neck” (a fairly rare word) from Proto-Germanic *khnekkon “the nape of the neck” (cf. Old Frisian hnekka, Middle Dutch necke, Dutch nek, Old Norse hnakkr, Old High German hnach, German Nacken “neck”), with no certain cognates outside Germanic, though Klein’s sources suggest PIE *knok- “high point, ridge” (cf. Old Irish cnocc, Welsh cnwch, Old Breton cnoch “hill”).

The more usual Old English words were hals (the general Germanic word, cf. Gothic, Old Norse, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, German hals), cognate with Latin collum (see collar (n.)); and swira, probably also from a PIE root meaning “column” (cf. Sanskrit svaru- “post”).

Transferred senses attested from c.1400. Phrase neck of the woods (American English) is attested from 1780 in the sense of “narrow stretch of woods;” 1839 with meaning “settlement in a wooded region.” To stick one’s neck out “take a risk” is first recorded 1919, American English. Horses running neck and neck is attested from 1799.

“to kiss, embrace, caress,” 1825 (implied in necking) in northern England dialect, from neck (n.). Cf. Middle English halsen “to embrace or caress affectionately, to fondle sexually,” from hals (n.) “neck.” Earlier, neck as a verb meant “to kill by a strike on the neck” (mid-15c.). Related: Necked.

neck (něk)

The part of the body joining the head to the shoulders or trunk.

A narrow or constricted part of a structure, as of a bone or an organ, that joins its parts; a cervix.

The part of a tooth between the crown and the root.


To kiss, embrace, and caress; dally amorously; make out, smooch: At least you’d want to neck me/ You ”spooned,” then you ”petted,” after that you ”necked” (1825+)

Related Terms

dead from the neck up, dirty-neck, get off someone’s back, give someone a pain, leatherneck, no-neck, a pain in the ass, redneck, roughneck, rubberneck, stick one’s neck out, to save one’s neck

used sometimes figuratively. To “lay down the neck” (Rom. 16:4) is to hazard one’s life. Threatenings of coming judgments are represented by the prophets by their laying bands upon the people’s necks (Deut. 28:48; Isa. 10:27; Jer. 27:2). Conquerors put their feet on the necks of their enemies as a sign of their subjection (Josh. 10:24; 2 Sam. 22:41).

neck and neck
neck of the woods


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