1 [pek]
a dry measure of 8 quarts; the fourth part of a bushel, equal to 537.6 cubic inches (8.81 liters).
a container for measuring this quantity. Abbreviation: pk, pk.
a considerable quantity: a peck of trouble.

1250–1300; Middle English pek < Old French < ?

pecks, pecs. Unabridged


2 [pek]
verb (used with object)
to strike or indent with the beak, as a bird does, or with some pointed instrument, especially with quick, repeated movements.
to make (a hole, puncture, etc.) by such strokes; pierce.
to take (food) bit by bit, with or as with the beak.
verb (used without object)
to make strokes with the beak or a pointed instrument.
a quick stroke, as in pecking.
a hole or mark made by or as by pecking.
a quick, almost impersonal kiss: a peck on the cheek.
(in timber) incipient decay from fungi, occurring in isolated spots.
pecks, Also, peckings. Slang. food.
Verb phrases
peck at,
to nibble indifferently or unenthusiastically at (food).
to nag or carp at: Stop pecking at me, I'm doing the best I can.

1300–50; Middle English pecke < Middle Dutch pecken; akin to pick1

unpecked, adjective

10a. pick at, poke at.


Annie Smith, 1850–1935, U.S. mountain climber.
Gregory, 1916–2003, U.S. actor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
peck1 (pɛk)
1.  a unit of dry measure equal to 8 quarts or one quarter of a bushel
2.  a container used for measuring this quantity
3.  a large quantity or number
[C13: from Anglo-Norman, of uncertain origin]

peck2 (pɛk)
vb (when intr, sometimes foll by at) (sometimes foll by out) (often foll by at) (foll by at)
1.  to strike with the beak or with a pointed instrument
2.  to dig (a hole) by pecking
3.  (tr) (of birds) to pick up (corn, worms, etc) by pecking
4.  to nibble or pick (at one's food)
5.  informal to kiss (a person) quickly and lightly
6.  to nag
7.  a quick light blow, esp from a bird's beak
8.  a mark made by such a blow
9.  informal a quick light kiss
[C14: of uncertain origin; compare pick1, Middle Low German pekken to jab with the beak]

Peck (pɛk)
Gregory. 1916--2003, US film actor; his films include Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Gunfighter (1950), The Big Country (1958), To Kill a Mockingbird (1963), The Omen (1976), and Other People's Money (1991)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, possibly a variant of picken (see pick (v.)), or in part from M.L.G. pekken "to peck with the beak." Pecker "one who pecks" is from 1697; slang sense of "penis" is from 1902. Peckerwood (1859) is U.S. Southern black dialectal inversion of
woodpecker (q.v.); in folklore, taken as the type of white folks (1929) and symbolically contrasted with blackbird. As a behavior among hens, pecking order (1928) translates Ger. hackliste (T.J. Schjelderuo-Ebbe, 1922); transf. sense of "human hierarchy based on rank or status" is from 1955.

late 13c., "dry measure of one-quarter bushel," of unknown origin; perhaps connected with O.Fr. pek, picot (13c.), also of unknown origin. Chiefly of oats for horses; original sense may be "allowance" rather than a fixed measure, thus perhaps from peck (v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


unit of capacity in the U.S. Customary and the British Imperial Systems of measurement. In the United States the peck is used only for dry measure and is equal to 8 dry quarts, or 537.6 cubic inches (8.810 litres). In Great Britain the peck may be used for either liquid or dry measure and is equal to 8 imperial quarts (2 imperial gallons), or one-fourth imperial bushel, or 554.84 cubic inches (9.092 litres). The peck has been in use since the early 14th century, when it was introduced as a measure for flour. The term referred to varying quantities, however, until the modern units were defined in the 19th century.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
He breaks the skin and leaves little red peck marks.
Haven't noticed them actually eating though they do peck at it.
They stood around the poor thing, and ever so often, one would move in and peck
  its tail.
Were the egg to bounce free, she would fiercely peck and break it.
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