Definition of pickle in English:



  • 1mass noun A relish consisting of vegetables or fruit preserved in vinegar or brine.

    ‘cheese and pickle’
    count noun ‘assorted pickles’
    • ‘A short stroll through the aisles of the average food hall reveals a bewildering variety of mustards, relishes, sauces, pickles and assorted creams, pastes, chutneys, jellies and condiments from all over the world.’
    • ‘The unripe fruit is used extensively in India and elsewhere in SE Asia for making chutneys, pickles, and relishes of various kinds.’
    • ‘Don't forget our great range of cakes, tarts and bread, free-range hen, duck and goose eggs and home made pasta sauces, pickles and preserves.’
    • ‘Association traders from across the county will be selling some of the county's finest fare, including cheeses, chutneys, pickles, wines and beers.’
    • ‘I regularly took her coffee and a crusty roll with cheese and pickle, which she loved.’
    • ‘You just can't beat a cheese and pickle sarnie can you?’
    • ‘Acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or lower They include fruits, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades, and fruit butters.’
    • ‘Jam, jellies, marmalades, candies, fruit syrups, squashes, chutney, pickles, ketchup and sauce are in the menu.’
    • ‘There were also chips of all kinds, vegetables, pickles, cut up fruit, and fresh homemade bread.’
    • ‘Indian groceries also carry many prepared ingredients, such as paneer cheese and the chutneys, curries and vegetable condiments called pickles that can be used to spice up grilled chicken or fish.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the favourite is still good old-fashioned cheese and pickle with more than half of the people asked choosing this filling.’
    • ‘She also admitted that she rarely cooks a meal for herself - and if she does it is likely to be cheese on toast with pickle.’
    • ‘But most of all, they want a larder, stocked with jellies and jams, pickles and preserves.’
    • ‘The company produces 150 million bottles and jars a year of products such as cooking sauces, pickles, ketchup, brown sauce, pickled onions and beetroot.’
    • ‘Stews, roasts, and casseroles with vegetable, salads, sour pickles, and sauerkraut make up the usual main course.’
    • ‘Other vendors offer a line of preserves - jams, jellies, relish, pickles and salsa have proved to be popular.’
    • ‘When cold, mix in salt and curds as required and serve with any pickle or chutney of your choice.’
    • ‘He also has a unit in an industrial park on the hill where he makes his chutneys and pickles.’
    • ‘Limit condiments, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles and sauces with salt-filled ingredients.’
    • ‘Selina began to scrap her two scrambled eggs onto the brown meat pattie that had been smothered in ketchup, mustard, pickles, lettuce and mayonnaise.’
    relish, chutney, chow chow, piccalilli, sauerkraut
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    1. 1.1North American count noun A pickled cucumber.
      • ‘Bacon, luncheon meats, potato chips, and pickles are examples of salty foods.’
      • ‘A huge, mouthwatering grinder stared back at me, adorned with lettuce and tomato and pickles and everything else I loved.’
      • ‘‘Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun’ might pass for a trademark.’
      • ‘Ask for extra veggies like lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.’
      • ‘I've been eating pickles and jam all afternoon.’
      • ‘As a result they organised breakfast for us so that we can have it in our room (sweet bread, eggs, pickles and drinking yogurt).’
      • ‘Cucumbers lacked brine with which to make pickles.’
      • ‘On the inside is the traditional ham and pork and pickles and maybe a little mustard.’
      • ‘She picked up her burger and turned it over a couple of times, shedding lettuce, tomatoes and pickles which he patiently restored.’
      • ‘In the making of fresh-pack pickles, cucumbers are acidified quickly with vinegar.’
      • ‘At one point, she brought a big plate of pickles and little plastic cups of coleslaw.’
      • ‘They plant and harvest onions, zucchini, pickles, cabbage, lettuce and apples, produce that gets shipped all over the country.’
      • ‘No, if I was pregnant I'd want chocolate chip muffins and pickles.’
      • ‘The barrel will turn the sweet cucumber into a pickle.’
      • ‘Our salt pancake, a pocket of sweet onions, carrots, pickles and some kind of melted French cheese, was a good choice, too.’
      • ‘The type of cucumbers used in his pickles is not raised in Japan.’
      • ‘By July, she'd already had time to make a batch of the pickles using cucumbers from her garden.’
      • ‘Everything, from the bread, the onions, pickles, and the beef, right down to the ketchup and mustard was one hundred percent Earth grown.’
      • ‘Sour taste is in foods like pickles, plain yogurt, and citrus.’
      • ‘Lebanese Americans also eat fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, yogurt and yogurt cheese, pickles, hot peppers, olives, and pistachio nuts.’
    2. 1.2 Liquid used to preserve food or other perishable items.
      • ‘Pickle liquid mixed in with the mayo can give a new twist to your time-honored potato salad.’
      • ‘Leave the meat in the pickle liquid for three days. Keep the pickling mixture.’
      • ‘In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, pickle liquid, and mustard.’
      • ‘Just slice them into decent slices, and drop them into the pickle liquid for a few seconds then bottle them.’
      • ‘However, in a British pub you'd probably have to substitute pickled egg vinegar as they wouldn't have any dill pickle liquid.’
      marinade, brine, vinegar
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  • 2informal in singular A difficult situation.

    ‘I am in a pickle’
    • ‘He was rolled by his colleagues and now he is in a pickle on so many fronts that he is one of the most discredited members of the Government.’
    • ‘Yet, somehow, they ended up in a pickle on the seafront.’
    • ‘If you get yourself in a pickle, you'll get out of it.’
    • ‘When in a pickle like the one you describe, it is perfectly acceptable to announce you are early risers and the evening is, regrettably, over.’
    • ‘They open the newspaper; they read a couple of headlines on the front page to see if they know anybody that got in a pickle, and then they go right to the sports page or the comics.’
    • ‘But it leaves questing, small-c conservative voters like me in a pickle.’
    • ‘And while colleagues would like to move faster, they also accept he is in a pickle.’
    • ‘Please note that my relationship is not in a pickle.’
    • ‘ALL ‘soap’ lovers will know that poor Jimmy and Lorraine are in a pickle over their wedding arrangements.’
    • ‘We realized we were in a pickle and knew how much embarrassment would ensue from most of the remedies that obviously presented themselves.’
    • ‘Those who do not have private insurance often find themselves in a pickle if something does go wrong.’
    • ‘But it's difficult to argue when traffic jams are landing us in a pickle every day.’
    • ‘Once you start analysing your own music or judging it through the eyes of others your bound to get yourself in a pickle.’
    • ‘If yields jumped, the government could find itself in a pickle as it struggled to pay off dollar debt with a fast-weakening currency.’
    • ‘Locked out of her house, and nude as can be, the woman found herself in a pickle.’
    • ‘Thanks for any advice you can offer; I'm definitely in a pickle.’
    • ‘I think by backing off just a bit we can still make it hard, but at the same time stop ourselves from getting in a pickle.’
    • ‘They also help you build up the reflexes you need if you're ever in a pickle, and give you the confidence to fight back - which leads me to my next topic…’
    • ‘However, they were caught in a pickle between a better user experience and short term revenue goals.’
    • ‘Two people - both oboists - had left the school orchestra and things were in a pickle.’
    plight, predicament, mess, difficulty, trouble, crisis, desperate straits, dire straits, ticklish situation, tricky situation, problem, quandary, dilemma
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  • 3British dated, informal in singular Used as an affectionate form of address to a mischievous child.

    ‘‘All right, me pickle’, said Dad’
    • ‘I can't resist anything dotted and a little Easter treat would be right up my little pickle’s alley. She loves having a big girl bag like mommy's.’
    • ‘Today is my little pickle's 2nd birthday.’
    • ‘I get to hang out with my little pickle all day and do laundry and cook and clean stuff and go to the park and go to the mall and go to the grocery store and make breakfast, lunch, and dinner.’
    rascal, monkey, devil, imp, rogue, wretch, mischief-maker, troublemaker, prankster
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  • 4An acid solution for cleaning metal objects.

    • ‘They will have to be cleaned in pickle and soldered to findings or drilled to make pendants, rings, or other jewelry.’
    • ‘Professionals use copper tongs to add and remove items from their pickle.’
    • ‘Wash your project in clean water after pickle and dry thoroughly before moving on.’
    • ‘I have a problem with copper deposit on metals cleaned in pickle.’
    • ‘Copper will not contaminate the pickling solution, and it is crucial that you keep your pickle clean.’


  • 1Preserve (food or other perishable items) in vinegar or brine.

    ‘fish pickled in brine’
    • ‘The large amount of sugar in the cooked fruit acted like the vinegar pickling brine to help preserve freshness.’
    • ‘Usually, it's fried, pickled in vinegar and spices and served cold.’
    • ‘The buds are picked before they start to open, and pickled in vinegar.’
    • ‘As you recall, when we pickle cherries or watermelon rinds, we add a little sugar.’
    • ‘When most people think of herring, they picture it in smoked strips, or maybe pickled in large jars.’
    • ‘Influenced by the cooking style in neighbouring cities, especially in Ningbo, where people are skilled in pickling seafood in wine, Shanghainese also show great interest in dishes like pickled shrimps and crabs.’
    • ‘Either kind is eaten with red cabbage pickled in vinegar.’
    • ‘The best-known dressing-up dish is kimchee, vegetables pickled in sweetish but mostly hot red chili paste touched with garlic and ginger.’
    • ‘They are tiny flower buds from Mediterranean shrubs, which are usually pickled in brine or sea salt.’
    • ‘To lightly pickle the cucumber, finely slice it and toss with salt, sugar and lemon juice.’
    • ‘He was pickled in a barrel and the story is that Mary helped to do this.’
    • ‘Food-grade lime may be used as a lime-water solution for soaking fresh cucumbers 12 to 24 hours before pickling them.’
    • ‘He says: ‘We sell the whole of the beast from the tongue, which is pickled in the shop's own brine tub, all the way to the oxtail.’’
    • ‘She thought about this as she pickled some cucumbers for the winter.’
    • ‘Young buds were pickled in vinegar or brine with silphium and cumin.’
    • ‘The salmon they carried from Berwick was boiled, pickled in brine and delivered in barrels known as kitts.’
    • ‘Portuguese garlic pork is highly spiced pork pickled in garlic and vinegar.’
    • ‘Mint was grown and pickled in vinegar by the Romans, who introduced the plant into England.’
    • ‘To reduce waste, Wendy has begun pickling the mushrooms they don't sell.’
    • ‘They are hand-picked at the beginning of the summer, to be pickled in vinegar and enjoyed as a condiment or in salads.’
    preserve, souse, marinate, conserve
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  • 2Immerse (a metal object) in an acid or other chemical solution for cleaning.

    ‘the steel sheet is first pickled in acid to remove all oxides’
    • ‘Titanium sheet, supplied descaled and pickled, has no significant amount of surface oxide.’
    • ‘After a few rounds of heating and pickling in acid the silver would be brought to the surface of the coin in a thin rind, and give the coin a brilliant silvery appearance.’
    • ‘Miliscale on copper-nickel alloys must be removed by grinding or pickling; wire brushing is not effective.’
    • ‘This is usually done by pickling in an inhibited acid.’


Late Middle English (denoting a spicy sauce served with meat): from Middle Dutch, Middle Low German pekel, of unknown ultimate origin.