Definition of picket in English:



  • 1A person or group of people who stand outside a workplace or other venue as a protest or to try to persuade others not to enter during a strike.

    ‘forty pickets were arrested’
    • ‘Peter rushes outside to tell the pickets and call them off.’
    • ‘Up to 100 pickets were outside the depot in Sheffield, Britain's largest bus garage, on Saturday.’
    • ‘The unions were organising a London weighting battle bus to tour round the picket lines, and pickets were to lobby the department of education.’
    • ‘The arrests occurred on day one of the strike, after pickets refused to allow delivery trucks driven by non-union members in to the premises.’
    • ‘According to the newspaper, pickets have been sleeping outside the cold storage on the harbour quay to prevent any scab operation from breaking the strike.’
    • ‘By 7am there were 300 pickets outside the main hospital.’
    • ‘The general secretary, who joined pickets outside the station, said the strikes proved that rail workers did not believe they were being treated fairly on pay.’
    • ‘But the letters from animal rights activists, the e-mails, even the odd picket outside the grotto, were wearing him down.’
    • ‘The visitors were all well behaved though and there were no pickets outside, at least not when we were there.’
    • ‘There were a few pickets outside, assistant curators and clerical staff having a wage dispute with the museum.’
    • ‘The first thing pickets outside the local garage did was to barbecue sausages and eat them with tomato bread.’
    • ‘Opponents would claim that the sight of placard-wielding pickets outside various religious functions presents the Gospel in a poor light.’
    • ‘After two months management hired a new workforce, reopened operations and called in police to disperse pickets outside the hotel.’
    • ‘No, the workers were not restive, nor were pickets lining up outside.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the armed pickets outside joined, no doubt, by gunmen escaping from inside the ground, were maintaining a fire in the direction of the police, who returned the fire.’
    striker, demonstrator, protester, objector, picketer
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A blockade of a workplace or other venue staged by a picket.
      ‘the workers walked out, mounting mass pickets at the factory gates’
      • ‘Mass pickets were held last week outside at least 18 of the 565 schools affected.’
      • ‘Hundreds or thousands of workers are pulled off their regular jobs to organize events like pickets and street demonstrations.’
      • ‘On Saturday, as port operators began to move cargo without the use of the striking longshoremen, the strikers initiated mass pickets to stop them.’
      • ‘A mass meeting last week voted unanimously to continue with the action and more than half the workforce took part in a mass picket.’
      • ‘In the absence of policing, would mass pickets have physically prevented miners from going to work rather than peacefully trying to dissuade them?’
      • ‘Then Fiat workers walked out, mounting mass pickets at factory gates.’
      • ‘As pressure groups across the country today threatened to stage pickets at supermarkets and processing plants, local farmers said the action was ‘entirely justified’.’
      • ‘You must not assume that on every occasion there is a mass picket there is going to be trouble.’
      • ‘There have been similar pickets outside further education colleges and post offices in that area.’
      • ‘Union leaders should call for collections, delegations to the picket lines and mass pickets to stop any scabbing.’
      • ‘Workers also made it clear that any move to evict the union from its office would be met with a mass picket.’
      • ‘Mass pickets could have created a focus to win action.’
      • ‘There were unofficial strikes involving up to 250,000 workers, demonstrations and mass pickets.’
      • ‘Options they're looking at include refusing to bring ships upstream or even a picket / blockade.’
      • ‘This definition can cover legitimate forms of protest, including strikes, pickets, blockades and mass demonstrations.’
      • ‘Farmers are set to stage pickets at milk processing plants in North Yorkshire, according to a pressure group.’
      • ‘So far the action has been characterised by lively and good natured mass pickets with very few members crossing and many former non-members joining.’
      • ‘The company offered negotiations, but only if we lifted the mass picket.’
      • ‘Where support was harder to get, the miners launched mass pickets to stop the movement of coal.’
      • ‘Mass pickets closed down the entire complex and management were forced to cave in within days.’
      demonstration, picket line, blockade, boycott
      View synonyms
  • 2A soldier or small group of soldiers performing a particular duty, especially one sent out to watch for the enemy.

    ‘when would this headlong advance run into the enemy pickets?’
    ‘a picket of soldiers fired a volley over the coffin’
    • ‘Union cavalry pickets and Signal Corps observers would have provided similar intelligence.’
    • ‘‘No picquet should be less than 1 Officer and 15 men,’ he was told.’
    • ‘A picket of soldiers traversed the streets, taking an unarmed policeman with them to announce that able-bodied men must come together in certain places to help to put out the flames.’
    • ‘For many of the campaigns of history sentries, or larger security parties constituting infantry pickets or cavalry vedettes, did not habitually fire on one another.’
    • ‘But a picket of soldiers followed the poor coffin to the grave, officers made speeches over it, and her old comrades mustered from all parts of France to say good-bye.’
    watchman, guard, watch, sentry, sentinel, night watchman, scout
    View synonyms
  • 3usually as modifier A pointed wooden stake driven into the ground, typically to form a fence or to tether a horse.

    ‘a cedar-picket stockade’
    • ‘Your fencing can be customized with ornate finials, scrolls, rings, and your choice of three distinctive picket tops and post caps.’
    • ‘It was in a yard surrounded by the same white picket fencing.’
    • ‘There is also a fencing division that produces garden fencing, picket fencing, post and rail and mortise fencing.’
    • ‘The playing field remains the target for vandals - this month further damage has been done to the picket fencing surrounding the children's play area.’
    • ‘The site, which is 5 metres by 7 metres, comes with two trestle tables, 20 plastic chairs and picket fencing.’
    • ‘He saved the wood piece by piece until he had enough pickets cut for the fence, and it took him years to complete the task.’
    • ‘In one of my gardens, in the dappled shade of oak trees, I have placed a pair of them either side of a wooden picket gate, where they are a delight each spring.’
    • ‘Various styles, rail configurations, and picket tops can be added to stop access or egress.’
    • ‘White picket fencing, kerbstones around plots and over-elaborate flower beds were also to be stopped in a bid to tidy up cemeteries.’
    • ‘‘Be nice,’ the boy opened the white picket gate and they walked to the door.’
    • ‘The best time is about an hour before sunset, when you can exit through a picket gate and head north along the beach.’
    • ‘With a little ingenuity you can create attractive picket designs.’
    • ‘It was fenced with white picket wood, and the dirt was clean and smooth, as if someone had just cleaned it up hours before.’
    • ‘He saw another Indian dismount and pull the picket pin of a horse near the tent, untouched by gunfire then but struck from his horse after he dashed away.’
    • ‘There are quite a few ornamental fences, and they all tout their own types of picket attachment.’
    • ‘Jane, a qualified nursery nurse, has ensured that the entrance is like a park in Mary Poppins, with an oak tree to symbolise growth and white picket fencing around imitation grass.’
    • ‘The versatility of wood picket fencing allows you many architectural styles which are influenced by the surroundings.’
    • ‘An internal retaining rod allows simple picket attachment without welds or screws, while permitting panels to follow the slope and contours of your property.’
    • ‘Each site had a picnic table, fire ring, and picket poles for your convenience.’
    • ‘There was also in evidence picket poles, rods, chains and all the instrumental paraphernalia of field work.’
    stake, peg, post, paling
    View synonyms


[with object]
  • Act as a picket outside (a workplace or other venue)

    ‘strikers picketed the newspaper's main building’
    no object ‘18,000 people turned up to picket’
    • ‘Strikers picketed offices in London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Norwich, Birmingham and Nottingham.’
    • ‘Some workers marched through the town and began picketing the factory.’
    • ‘Similar signs popped up in front yards and along the expressway, while local residents picketed the hospital in the evenings.’
    • ‘The workers, who were picketing the factory, were hit by rubber bullets and were later hospitalised.’
    • ‘The nurses, who picketed the hospital, want a monthly salary increase of 1,500 rupees.’
    • ‘Around thirty workers sacked from the company are picketing their former workplace in a bid to highlight their recent sacking by administrators.’
    • ‘Many of the workers picketing the depot are themselves parents of children who have had to find alternate means to get to school.’
    • ‘Over 200 delegates and supporters picketed the offices of the department of housing to protest against the latest budget cuts by the administration, which could see some of them lose their homes.’
    • ‘The workers continued to picket the offices on December 8 despite the presence of dozens of armed police and security guards.’
    • ‘They are now picketing the engineering workshops.’
    • ‘The workers have been picketing the hotel since February 8, over the terms of a proposed collective bargaining work agreement.’
    • ‘After picketing the office, they presented a petition to the provincial council secretary with their demands.’
    • ‘Around 40 workers picketed the factory on Friday of last week.’
    • ‘Workers who picket a workplace and demonstrators who block roads or entrances to financial institutions, such as the stock exchange, could be charged as terrorists, as could computer hackers.’
    • ‘Some films - usually involving scenes of sex or violence - have provoked such a level of controversy that protesters have picketed cinemas and local authorities have been forced to ban the movies.’
    • ‘On Saturday, protesters are planning to picket supermarkets in up to 100 towns and cities across the country, urging shoppers not to buy farmed salmon.’
    • ‘He said if individuals continues to picket meat factories and are identified to him he will deal with them severely.’
    • ‘Workers responded to the provocation by picketing the factory and over 150 barricading themselves inside a canteen.’
    • ‘Workers picketed the library and held a public rally.’
    • ‘Many workers picketed outside courthouses in the main cities during the week.’
    demonstrate at, form a picket at, man the picket line at, launch a demonstration at, protest at, form a protest group at
    View synonyms


Late 17th century (denoting a pointed stake, on which a soldier was required to stand on one foot as a military punishment): from French piquet ‘pointed stake’, from piquer ‘to prick’, from pic ‘pike’.