1 [pik]
verb (used with object)
to choose or select from among a group: to pick a contestant from the audience.
to seek and find occasion for; provoke: to pick a fight.
to attempt to find; seek out: to pick flaws in an argument.
to steal the contents of: Her pocket was picked yesterday.
to open (a lock) with a device other than the key, as a sharp instrument or wire, especially for the purpose of burglary.
to pierce, indent, dig into, or break up (something) with a pointed instrument: to pick rock; to pick ore.
to form (a hole) by such action: to pick a hole in asphalt.
to use a pointed instrument, the fingers, the teeth, the beak, etc., on (a thing), in order to remove or loosen something, as a small part or adhering matter: to pick one's teeth.
to prepare for use by removing a covering piece by piece, as feathers, hulls, or other parts: to pick a fowl.
to detach or remove piece by piece with the fingers: She picked the meat from the bones.
to pluck or gather one by one: to pick flowers.
(of birds or other animals) to take up (small bits of food) with the bill or teeth.
to eat daintily or in small morsels.
to separate, pull apart, or pull to pieces: to pick fibers.
to pluck (the strings of an instrument).
to play (a stringed instrument) by plucking with the fingers.
verb (used without object)
to strike with or use a pick or other pointed instrument on something.
(of birds or other animals) to take up small bits of food with the bill or teeth: The hens were busily picking about in their coop.
to select carefully or fastidiously.
to pilfer; steal.
to pluck or gather fruit, flowers, etc.
Basketball. to execute a pick.
the act of choosing or selecting; choice; selection: to take one's pick.
a person or thing that is selected: He is our pick for president.
the choicest or most desirable part, example, or examples: This horse is the pick of the stable.
the right of selection: He gave me my pick of the litter.
the quantity of a crop picked, as from trees, bushes, etc., at a particular time: The pick was poor this season.
a speck of dirt, hardened ink, or extra metal on set type or a plate.
a small area removed from the surface of a coated paper by ink that adheres to the form.
a stroke with something pointed: The rock shattered at the first pick of the ax.
Basketball. an offensive maneuver in which a player moves into a position between a defender and a teammate with the ball so as to prevent the defender from interfering with the shot.
Verb phrases
pick at,
to find fault with unnecessarily or persistently; nag.
to eat sparingly or daintily: As he was ill, he only picked at his food.
to grasp at; touch; handle: The baby loved to pick at her mother's glasses.
pick off,
to remove by pulling or plucking off.
to single out and shoot: The hunter picked off a duck rising from the marsh.
Baseball. to put out (a base runner) in a pick-off play.
pick on,
Informal. to criticize or blame; tease; harass.
to single out; choose: The professor always picks on me to translate long passages.
pick out,
to choose; designate: to pick out one's successor.
to distinguish from that which surrounds or accompanies; recognize: to pick out a well-known face in a crowd.
to discern (sense or meaning); discriminate.
to play (a melody) by ear; work out note by note.
to extract by picking.
pick over, to examine (an assortment of items) in order to make a selection: Eager shoppers were picking over the shirts on the bargain tables.
pick up,
to lift or take up: to pick up a stone.
to collect, especially in an orderly manner: Pick up the tools when you're finished.
to recover (one's courage, health, etc.); regain.
to gain by occasional opportunity; obtain casually: to pick up a livelihood.
to learn, as by experience: I've picked up a few Japanese phrases.
to claim: to pick up one's bags at an airport.
to take (a person or thing) into a car or ship, etc., or along with one.
to bring into range of reception, observation, etc.: to pick up Rome on one's radio.
to accelerate; gain (speed).
to put in good order; tidy: to pick up a room.
to make progress; improve: Business is beginning to pick up.
to catch or contract, as a disease.
Informal. to become acquainted with informally or casually, often in hope of a sexual relationship: Let's pick up some dates tonight.
to resume or continue after being left off: Let's pick up the discussion in our next meeting.
Informal. to take into custody; arrest: They picked him up for vagrancy.
Informal. to obtain; find; purchase: She picked up some nice shoes on sale.
Slang. to steal: to pick up jewels and silver.
to accept, as in order to pay: to pick up the check.
pick up on, Informal.
become aware or cognizant of; be perceptive about; notice: to pick up on the hostess's hostility.
to pay special attention to; keep an eye on: to pick up on a troubled student.
pick and choose, to be very careful or particular in choosing: With such a limited supply of fresh fruit, you won't be able to pick and choose.
pick apart, to criticize severely or in great detail: They picked her apart the moment she left the room.
pick it up, Informal. to move, work, etc., at a faster rate.
pick one's way/steps, to walk with care and deliberation: She picked her way across the muddy field.
pick someone's brains. brain ( def 12 ).

1250–1300; v. Middle English pyken, pikken, pekken, cognate with Dutch pikken, German picken, Old Norse pikka to pick; akin to peck2, pike5; (noun) derivative of the v.

pickable, adjective
unpickable, adjective

4. rob, pilfer. 12. reap, collect.

1. See choose.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pick1 (pɪk)
vb (when intr, foll by at)
1.  to choose (something) deliberately or carefully, from or as if from a group or number; select
2.  to pluck or gather (fruit, berries, or crops) from (a tree, bush, field, etc): to pick hops; to pick a whole bush
3.  (tr) to clean or prepare (fruit, poultry, etc) by removing the indigestible parts
4.  (tr) to remove loose particles from (the teeth, the nose, etc)
5.  (esp of birds) to nibble or gather (corn, etc)
6.  to nibble (at) fussily or without appetite
7.  to separate (strands, fibres, etc), as in weaving
8.  (tr) to provoke (an argument, fight, etc) deliberately
9.  (tr) to steal (money or valuables) from (a person's pocket)
10.  (tr) to open (a lock) with an instrument other than a key
11.  to pluck the strings of (a guitar, banjo, etc)
12.  (tr) to make (one's way) carefully on foot: they picked their way through the rubble
13.  pick and choose to select fastidiously, fussily, etc
14.  pick someone's brains to obtain information or ideas from someone
15.  freedom or right of selection (esp in the phrase take one's pick)
16.  a person, thing, etc, that is chosen first or preferred: the pick of the bunch
17.  the act of picking
18.  the amount of a crop picked at one period or from one area
19.  printing a speck of dirt or paper fibre or a blob of ink on the surface of set type or a printing plate
[C15: from earlier piken to pick, influenced by French piquer to pierce; compare Middle Low German picken, Dutch pikken]

pick2 (pɪk)
1.  a tool with a handle carrying a long steel head curved and tapering to a point at one or both ends, used for loosening soil, breaking rocks, etc
2.  any of various tools used for picking, such as an ice pick or toothpick
3.  a plectrum
4.  (tr) to pierce, dig, or break up (a hard surface) with a pick
5.  (tr) to form (a hole) in this way
[C14: perhaps variant of pike²]

pick3 ((in weaving) pɪk)
1.  (tr) to cast (a shuttle)
2.  one casting of a shuttle
3.  a weft or filling thread
[C14: variant of pitch1]

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

O.E. *pician "to prick," merged with O.N. pikka "to prick, peck," common Gmc. (cf. M.Du. picken, Ger. picken "to pick, peck"), from PIE *pik-/*pek-, an imitative base. The meaning "to choose, select, pick out" emerged late 14c., from earlier meaning "to pluck with the fingers" (early 14c.). To pick a
quarrel, etc. is from mid-15c.; to pick at "find fault with" is from c.1670. Pick on "single out for adverse attention" is from late 14c.; to pick (someone) up "make someone's acquaintance aggressively for sexual purposes" is first recorded 1690s. Pick off "shoot one by one" is recorded from 1810; baseball sense of "to put out a runner on base" is from 1939. Pickpocket is from 1591 (earlier pick-purse, late 14c.). Pick-me-up "stimulating alcoholic drink" is attested from 1867. Picky first recorded 1867.

c.1300, pyk "pikestaff," variant of pike (2). Pic "pickaxe" is attested from mid-14c. Sense of "plectrum for a guitar, lute, etc." is from 1895; as a type of basketball block it is attested from 1951. Meaning "choicest part or example" is first recorded 1760, from pick (v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

pick up

  1. Lift, take up by hand, as in Please pick up that book from the floor. [Early 1300s]

  2. Collect or gather, as in First they had to pick up the pieces of broken glass.

  3. Tidy, put in order, as in Let's pick up the bedroom, or I'm always picking up after Pat. [Mid-1800s]

  4. Take on passengers or freight, as in The bus picks up commuters at three stops.

  5. Acquire casually, get without great effort or by accident. For example, I picked up a nice coat at the sale, or She had no trouble picking up French. This usage is even extended to contracting diseases, as in I think I picked up the baby's cold. [Early 1500s]

  6. Claim, as in He picked up his laundry every Friday.

  7. Buy, as in Please pick up some wine at the store on your way home.

  8. pick up the bill or check or tab. Accept a charge in order to pay it, as in They always wait for us to pick up the tab. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]

  9. Increase speed or rate, as in The plane picked up speed, or The conductor told the strings to pick up the tempo.

  10. Gain, as in They picked up five yards on that pass play.

  11. Take into custody, apprehend, as in The police picked him up for burglary. [Colloquial; second half of 1800s]

  12. Make a casual acquaintance with, especially in anticipation of sexual relations, as in A stranger tried to pick her up at the bus station. [Slang; late 1800s]

  13. Come upon, find, detect, as in The dog picked up the scent, or They picked up two submarines on sonar, or I can't pick up that station on the car radio.

  14. Resume, as in Let's pick up the conversation after lunch.

  15. Improve or cause to improve in condition or activity, as in Sales picked up last fall, or He picked up quickly after he got home from the hospital, or A cup of coffee will pick you up. [1700s]

  16. Gather one's belongings, as in She just picked up and left him.

  17. pick oneself up. Recover from a fall or other mishap, as in Jim picked himself up and stood there waiting. [Mid-1800s] Also see the subsequent entries beginning with pick up.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
He was allowed one phone call, and asked his relatives to come and pick up the
He had three golden apples, which he dropped one by one, and which the lady
  stopped to pick up.
The papers were quick to pick up the remark, and it stayed with him the rest of
  his life.
When religions flourish side by side they tend to pick up each other's
  ceremonial and other outward peculiarities.
Idioms & Phrases
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