pick at

Idioms & Phrases

pick at

  1. Pluck or pull at, especially with the fingers, as in She was always picking at her skirt with her nails. [1600s]

  2. Eat sparingly and without appetite, as in He was just picking at his dinner. [Late 1500s]

  3. Nag, badger, as in He's picking at me all day long. [Colloquial; second half of 1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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