adverb

  • 1informal Used in speech as a meaningless filler or to signify the speaker's uncertainty about an expression just used.

    ‘there was this funny smell—sort of dusty like’
    • ‘And then she said I was right! I was like so amazed!’
    • ‘Ben Kweller and his band certainly did that alright - they like totally rocked, man.’
    • ‘In the next three one-dayers I didn't play and it was like really frustrating for me.’
    • ‘I just - you know, I just kind of like mind my own business.’
    • ‘He's been acting all weird like.’
  • 2informal Used to convey a person's reported attitude or feelings in the form of direct speech (whether or not representing an actual quotation)

    ‘so she comes into the room and she's like ‘Where is everybody?’’
    • ‘I'm trying to work, and this guy is looking over my shoulder and after a while I notice and I'm like, ‘What are you doing?’’
    • ‘She's got her Nativity play coming up, and she's like, ’Mummy, I'm going to sing on the stage like you.’’
    • ‘So I decided to go swimming with Peter, and we did for a little bit. Then he's like, ‘Do you want to see my car?’’
  • 3like as/toarchaic In the manner of.

    ‘like as a ship with dreadful storm long tossed’

Usage

In the sentence he's behaving like he owns the place, like is a conjunction meaning ‘as if’, a usage regarded as incorrect in standard English. Although like has been used as a conjunction in this way since the 15th century by many respected writers, it is still frowned upon and considered unacceptable in formal English, where as if should be used instead