Main definitions of pick in English

: pick1pick2



  • 1[with object] Take hold of and remove (a flower, fruit, or vegetable) from where it is growing.

    ‘I went to pick some flowers for Jenny's room’
    ‘freshly picked mushrooms’
    • ‘Local children will be invited to pick the fruit to encourage them to eat a healthy diet.’
    • ‘The leaves may also be cooked, which allows slightly older wild plants to be used, but the leaves must always be picked before the plant flowers.’
    • ‘Organic soups are often comprised of freshly picked vegetables and beans.’
    • ‘A girl runs frenzied, searching, sometimes stopping briefly to pick some flowers eager but not bright, hopeful and wanting.’
    • ‘A flower vase stood on the table, a few freshly picked flowers inserted in it.’
    • ‘We would buy fresh fruit and pick fresh vegetables from a small garden in the back.’
    • ‘Meat and fish were curried or peppered in order to preserve them and we picked the abundant fruit that grew in our garden.’
    • ‘What should I do with my autumn-fruiting raspberry plants after I have picked the fruits?’
    • ‘The process consists of reselecting the original azalea seeds, sowing them, letting them flower, picking the best and taking cuttings.’
    • ‘If you want lots of small fruits, keep picking the squashes young.’
    • ‘When the harvest is ready, children from the estate will be invited to pick the fruit.’
    • ‘The week normally starts with the farmers picking their fruit and vegetables on Monday.’
    • ‘The warm, earthy smell of freshly picked vegetables used to pervade the whole atmosphere.’
    • ‘At the foot of the garden path she found her eldest sister, picking some of the flowers their gardener had allowed to grow wild there.’
    • ‘There was a man outside cutting wood for fire and a woman picking vegetables and fruits from a garden.’
    • ‘Flora dropped a pile of freshly picked fruits next to him.’
    • ‘Observe your vegetables all summer and pick those for seed that are the best - perhaps in yield, taste, disease resistance, vigour or early ripening.’
    • ‘I went outside and watered them and picked the fruits and vegetables.’
    • ‘It has a mild tranquillising effect, which you can experience by merely picking the flower buds and inhaling their scent.’
    • ‘On average they take 120 days to grow, and are picked sooner than regular carrots to preserve tenderness.’
    harvest, collect, take in, pluck, pull, dig, crop, reap, bring home
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Take hold of and lift or move.
      ‘he picked a match out of the box’
      ‘picking her up, he carried her into the next room’
      • ‘Stooping down, he picked up my bag, slinging it over his shoulder.’
      • ‘Out in the pond I had fantastic views of a whiskered tern wheeling around and picking food of some sort out of the water.’
      • ‘She carefully picked up her bag, heading for the exit.’
      • ‘He counts to five, then picks the receiver up again.’
      • ‘I missed, and as I walked toward my ball, I reached down to pick up my cigarette.’
      • ‘Too excited to be irritated by her cat, she quickly picked up the phone.’
      • ‘My mom picked up the book, flipping through the pages.’
      • ‘In pair lifts, one partner picks the other up off the ice and later places that partner back down on it.’
      • ‘Grudgingly, I pulled myself out of my chair and walked to the phone, picking it up and putting the receiver to my ear.’
      • ‘He quickly picked up the phone and dialed in Jim's pager number.’
      • ‘A sensor module in the bag's handle detects when the bag has been picked up, indicating that the owner might be leaving.’
      • ‘A player picked up the ball and ran him out.’
      • ‘She quickly picked up the phone and dialed the number as quickly as possible.’
      • ‘Kevin moved in for a closer look, then picked one up.’
      • ‘He picked his fork up gingerly, signalling the start of the meal, and spoke no more.’
      • ‘The tracking system uses sensors hidden under Gillette shelves to detect when products are picked up.’
      • ‘I was about to fish out my wallet again when the guy picked up my bag of things.’
      • ‘She collapsed on the couch, and picked the phone receiver up again.’
      • ‘He left his ball on the green, picked up his bag, and walked back to the parking lot.’
      • ‘Breathless, I gingerly picked up the two pieces of jewelry, scrutinizing them thoroughly.’
    2. 1.2Golf [no object]Lift up one's ball, especially when conceding a hole.
      • ‘I think a whole lot of amateurs make a big mistake by picking up the ball on the putting green and not putting out.’
      • ‘He had to putt from three yards to tie when the other player picked up his opponent's ball marker rather than forcing him to putt out.’
      • ‘He looked at me, picked up his ball and returned to the course.’
      • ‘Then he walked to the hole, looked in, reached down and picked up his ball.’
      • ‘During a round last fall, he had a 20-foot putt that didn't matter, so I told him to pick up his ball.’
  • 2[with object] Choose (someone or something) from a number of alternatives, typically after careful thought.

    ‘maybe I picked the wrong career after all’
    ‘she left Jed to pick out some toys’
    [no object] ‘this time, I get to pick’
    • ‘It was time to choose and they picked the man who would fight.’
    • ‘Sure being popular would be great, but if I had to choose, I'd pick friendship over popularity anytime.’
    • ‘They were given a free hand in picking the characters and choosing how they should be depicted.’
    • ‘Thereafter, he seemed to have an unerring knack for picking the wrong script.’
    • ‘Alternatively, people pick the first option available to them simply because it's there.’
    • ‘There certainly are a number of candidates to choose from when picking the players most likely to come through in key situations.’
    • ‘The farmers here are happy to teach how the leaves are chosen and how to pick them - if guests promise to put the leaves to their baskets.’
    • ‘The options for this include picking specific cities, metropolitan areas, or even a distance radius from a specific point.’
    • ‘More importantly when women have the chance to pick a director for a project or help to influence who gets chosen, they pick a man.’
    • ‘They had, it seemed, picked the wrong person to do it.’
    • ‘Voters would choose from one candidate picked by the prime minister and 200 others nominated at random from the electoral roll.’
    • ‘Would it be safe to send them to the islands I mentioned or have they picked the wrong time of year to travel down there?’
    • ‘With such a distinguished cast to choose from, they picked the wrong man.’
    • ‘You did the wrong thing and you definitely picked the wrong person to do it with.’
    • ‘Sabrina had chosen carefully when she picked her school.’
    • ‘The site picks the wrong musicians to plead its case.’
    • ‘She picked two people to chose their teams, and as predicted, I was chosen last.’
    • ‘Also, maybe I was picking the wrong options in conversations but there was a lot that never got properly explained to me.’
    • ‘The other girl asked him to choose and he picked her.’
    • ‘We just picked the wrong people to wield the power.’
    choose, select, pick, single out, hand-pick, decide on, settle on, fix on
    choose, select, pick out, single out, include, hand-pick, decide on, settle on, fix on
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[with adverbial of direction]Walk slowly and carefully, selecting the best or safest places to put one's feet.
      ‘he picked his way along the edge of the track, avoiding the potholes’
      • ‘They were picking their way slowly along the gravel of the stream bed.’
      • ‘She walked into the living room, picking her way carefully through the darkness.’
      • ‘Spotting it, I fell into a low crouch, picking my way slowly over holes and roots.’
      • ‘They picked their way carefully across the road and stepped inside the warm, dry cathedral, pulling the doors closed behind them.’
      • ‘Without another word, the four strange and unlikely companions set off on foot, picking their way carefully through the field.’
      • ‘She was carefully picking her way through driftwood and garbage.’
      • ‘I slowly picked my way through the darkened streets until I was at the front door of Jason's hut.’
      • ‘I picked my way carefully through the mess and strained to see the new arrival in our backyard.’
      • ‘To tackle the nose and descend the north ridge, negotiate a rocky corner, then carefully pick your way down, keeping left to avoid difficulties.’
      • ‘He turned and fled in terror, bumping and scraping several times against the walls he had picked his way along so carefully before.’
      • ‘His eyes widened as he saw Claire carefully picking her way around the chatting students and onto the bridge.’
      • ‘When I could walk again I started picking my way down the ridge, stopping a lot, staying on the trail.’
      • ‘It was a case of slowly picking our way down steep hillside, occasionally dislodging small rocks which bounced and rolled to the bush below.’
      • ‘She smiles as she pays the driver and picks her way carefully through the puddles.’
      • ‘They carefully picked their way down the ruined staircase and into the basement floor.’
      • ‘The two men slowly picked their way through the snow-covered trees and rocks.’
      • ‘She continued to creep down the hillside, carefully picking her way down.’
      • ‘He picked his way carefully through the ferns and knotted roots, focused eyes always straight ahead.’
      • ‘I waited for a break in the steady stream of visitors and set off, head down, picking my way slowly and carefully across.’
      • ‘I have to say that it is a pretty nasty sight, where one has to pick one's way carefully to avoid the mess they leave behind.’
  • 3[no object] Repeatedly pull at something with one's fingers.

    ‘the old woman was picking at the sheet’
    • ‘‘I'm not scared, I'm not proud,’ she says, eyes down, picking at the glittery design on her skirt.’
    • ‘A girl with blonde curly hair was sitting swinging her legs and picking at her fingers.’
    • ‘Before she knew it, Stephanie was sitting in a taxi cab, picking at her long fingernails nervously.’
    • ‘Flushing, Vicki smiled and lowered her gaze, picking at the nail of her smallest finger on her left hand.’
    • ‘She scrunched up her face and began picking at her fingernails.’
    • ‘I paced back and forth in the bedroom, fretting and picking at the skin around my fingernails.’
    • ‘In my eight months away she'd become careworn, picking nervously at her fingers as she spoke, palpably lacking the confidence she once had.’
    • ‘She just sat there, looking down and quietly picking at the skin around her fingernails.’
    • ‘She shifts on her bed, and starts picking at the loose stitching on her bedspread.’
    • ‘My fingers started picking at my chipped black nail polish and I kept my eyes down, concentrating on the paint chipping.’
    • ‘Morgan watched her as she fiddled with the corner of her notebook, picking at it with her small fingers…’
    • ‘Andrew pulled her hand into his to stop her from picking at the bodice of her dress.’
    • ‘His fingers were picking at a thread on my quilt.’
    • ‘The drunk was picking at one of his pockets, he had pulled it inside out.’
    • ‘She looked down at the table, her fingers picking at the white material on it.’
    • ‘She looked down, avoiding eye contact as she brought her hands up, fiddling with her fingers and picking at her newly painted fingernails.’
    • ‘He looked at his fingers again, picking at the calluses on his left hand.’
    • ‘Shrugging, Vicki lowered her gaze to her fingers picking at a tattered section of knee on her jeans.’
    • ‘She was picking at the scabs and forcing her fingers in her ears.’
    • ‘Holly shrugged, picking at her long, pale purple finger nails.’
    1. 3.1[with object]Make (a hole) in fabric by pulling at it with one's fingers.
      ‘she picked a hole in her tights’
      • ‘Somebody, at one point, had carefully picked a hole in the fabric, leaving a peephole to the room.’
      • ‘My sister picked a hole in her navy school tights as we sat and listened.’
    2. 3.2Eat food or a meal in small amounts or without much appetite.
      ‘she picked at her breakfast’
      • ‘‘I just can't do it,’ Andy was complaining later, as he picked at his food with his fork.’
      • ‘He picked at his food, not in the mood to eat anymore.’
      • ‘I nodded and picked at the food that was set in front of me.’
      • ‘Suze picked at her Thai food, and looked at the assembled table with her deep eyes.’
      • ‘His mother would place a bowl of bright red cherries or shiny pistachios before us and we picked at the food as we chatted lazily.’
      • ‘She seemed distracted, not fully listening to him, and she picked at her food.’
      • ‘The other young ladies picked at their food, eating little.’
      • ‘Matt picked at his food, not noticing the worried looks his mother shot him.’
      • ‘She took another sip of her wine, and picked at her food.’
      • ‘Aimée sat between him and Brett and picked at her food, nervous about all that was about to happen although more confident now that she had friends with her.’
      • ‘Silently, I picked at my food, nibbling on it mindlessly.’
      • ‘I picked at my food, my entire appetite deserting me after the first few mouthfuls.’
      • ‘Julie picked at the small amount of food she had put on her plate.’
      • ‘She took a bit of food and picked at it, eating little bits.’
      • ‘She stared at her food, picked at it a bit, and then stood up.’
      • ‘Andrew could tell that his wife was nervous, possibly even more nervous than he was, because she didn't say anything and only picked at her food.’
      • ‘I picked at my food numbly as my mind tried to assess the situation.’
      • ‘Then finally she sat down and picked at her food.’
      • ‘I wasn't very hungry so I just picked at my food, barely nibbling on it.’
      • ‘She picked at the food but it tasted like ash in her mouth.’
      nibble, peck, eat listlessly, toy with, play with, take very small bites from, push one's food around one's plate, push one's food around on one's plate, eat like a bird, show no appetite for, eat sparingly of
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    3. 3.3[with object]Remove unwanted matter from (one's nose or teeth) by using one's finger or a pointed instrument.
      • ‘For example, a child who picks his or her nose may be uncomfortable because he or she has actually stuck an object in the nose.’
      • ‘These range from lack of concentration, shyness and disobedience to nose picking and whining.’
      • ‘I have read your letter many times, trying to find the turning point in this relationship, and keep coming back to the nose picking.’
      • ‘I injured my index finger while picking my nose.’
      • ‘He idly picked his nose and then a large spot on his chin that was troubling him.’
      • ‘Acne cream and nose picking is not attractive these days.’
      • ‘Avoid nose blowing, rubbing, or picking while your nose is healing.’
      • ‘This included advice about regular hand washing, warnings about crowded places, and the dangers of nose picking.’
      • ‘My nephew Trevor is three, and he's a big fan of nose picking.’
      • ‘The bleeding should stop and not start again, unless your nose is knocked or picked.’
      • ‘Gone are the days when he insisted, ‘if my nose needs picking, I'll pick it even if the cameras are on me’.’
      • ‘And never lick your fingers, pick your teeth, or floss at the table.’
      • ‘There is reference, as well, to nose picking, a subject commonly avoided in media.’
      • ‘Habits such as nail biting, hair twirling, thumb-sucking and nose picking are common and stop naturally in most children by the time they reach junior school.’
      • ‘The most disgusting thing I encounter is waiters picking their noses or cutting their fingers.’
    4. 3.4Criticize someone in a petty way.
      ‘now, please don't start picking at Ruth’
      • ‘As he engages with the merciless classmates who rag him and pick at him every day, he imagines himself in computer graphics in the armour of the warrior.’
      • ‘I guess if you wanted to pick at him, you could say he still takes it upon himself to do too many things.’
      • ‘But I'm more mad than sad - mad at the press for its relentless picking at her faults while too often giving her opponent a softer ride.’
      • ‘The moment Wayne walked in the door, the pretty-faced little man started right in picking at him.’
      • ‘But Ruben liked to pick and pick at her until she exploded so he could turn around and call her childish.’
  • 4[with object] Pluck the strings of (a guitar or banjo)

    • ‘In its third section, the piece lands into a melancholy return with a re-established tonic and some layered guitar/autoharp picking.’
    • ‘This time Rory gets to show off his fine guitar picking.’
    • ‘On the album, the guitar picking is so precise that it demands that every painstakingly plucked note be closely listened to.’
    • ‘Velvety vocals, sung with tenderly picked guitars and gently played piano occasionally accompanied by some harsh brass made this record.’
    • ‘As we came to our first town, he suddenly started picking some demonically fast banjo.’
    • ‘Take, for instance, the building repetition of the guitar picking of ‘Back to Mali’.’
    • ‘Quiet strums and broken, stammering chords suddenly twist into intense breaks of almost classical Spanish guitar and deep south string picking.’
    • ‘He is bluesy; his guitar picking is flawless; his lyrics and melodies are touchingly funny.’
    • ‘He says his fingers are holding up pretty good after a lifetime of guitar picking and strumming, so he may remain on the road for a few years yet.’
    • ‘The first time I heard his exact guitar picking and gentle voice I was hooked; the sophistication and pop sensibility of his songs left me fuzzy-warm.’
    • ‘The orchestration then slowly fades out save the gentle guitar picking.’
    • ‘Other bands have done the single string picking coupled with power chords (for emphasis, of course).’
    • ‘The Chorus to this number relies on an atmospheric down shift of guitar picking and total distortion.’
    • ‘With soft acoustic picking of the guitar behind it, it's a passionate cry for support and help.’
    • ‘‘Amnesia’ features some great guitar picking from Nicholls over a perfect lazy groove.’
    strum, twang, thrum, pluck, finger
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    1. 4.1Play a tune on a guitar or banjo slowly or with difficulty.
      ‘she began to pick out a rough melody on the guitar’
      • ‘She started picking a gentle tune out of the instrument, the rich melody spiraling into the mild night air.’
      • ‘Maybelle picked out a melody on the bass strings with her thumb, while she used the index finger of the same hand to brush up and down across the higher strings, combining both chords and rhythm.’
      • ‘He hung up and went back into the basement studio and picked up a guitar and picked out a melody that had been playing around in the back of his head for the last few hours.’
      • ‘At home, Roberta's father repaired an old upright piano, and she began to pick out tunes while sitting on her mother's lap.’
      • ‘At just four years of age she began to pick out tunes she heard on the radio on the family's Baby Grand Piano.’


  • 1[in singular] An act or the right of selecting something from among a group of alternatives.

    ‘take your pick from our extensive menu’
    ‘Laura should have first pick’
    • ‘Take your pick and go ahead and exchange the old one.’
    • ‘You are free, I guess, to take your pick in relation to these and similar options.’
    • ‘There you can take your pick from an intensive 12-week course, as well as five- and one-day basic sushi classes.’
    • ‘We just walk out to the freezer in the garage and take our pick.’
    • ‘Moto-cross, skate or snowboarding - take your pick - the look is very similar, if not the same.’
    • ‘Mains include turbot in a langoustine and scallop sauce and monkfish kebabs, or take your pick from the hefty choice of daily specials.’
    • ‘Of course, you must match your seat covers to your dash cover, so take your pick from a wide choice of seat covers, which come in a variety of fabrics and colors.’
    • ‘The audience will also get the chance to judge the films and to select their favourite pick for the viewer's choice award.’
    • ‘The tourist in search of adventures can take his pick.’
    • ‘Take your pick, but either way it's quite irrational.’
    • ‘They told me, through an interpreter, to take my pick.’
    • ‘Take your pick from a seaweed wrap, salt loofah body buff, Swedish massage, aromatherapy, mineral bath, and more.’
    • ‘We were then invited to take our pick from a choice of starters.’
    • ‘You share brief, frugal meals with the monks in the refectory, then it's back to your cell to pray - for salvation, inspiration, or deliverance, take your pick.’
    • ‘You can either help me get over it or you have the option to divorce me, take your pick.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, if you want to ring the changes with sandwiches you make at home, then take your pick from this delicious recipe selection.’
    • ‘We could take our pick of the brightest minds on earth.’
    • ‘Take your pick from a home cooked Devonshire morning tea for $5 or a delicious roast beef lunch for $15, or both!’
    • ‘Take your pick when it comes to student politics today.’
    • ‘You can take your pick - lawyers, police or reporters.’
    choice, selection, option, decision
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    1. 1.1informal The person or thing perceived as the best in a particular group.
      ‘he was the pick of the bunch’
      • ‘He was the pick of the performers last season at half-back and stood out as one of the better players in a team that has taken a battering week-in and week-out.’
      • ‘Her rooms were decorated with every sort of fabric you could think of and she had the pick of the jewels of England as well.’
      • ‘Jack is the pick of a sorry bunch with six goals in 35 central defensive appearances.’
      • ‘The anchor man's propensity to select the correct pass at all times once more saw him stand out as the pick of City's trialists before his half-time substitution.’
      • ‘His production of John Marston's 1603 tragi-comedy is not, for me, the pick of the bunch.’
      • ‘In all honesty, he is probably the pick of a bad bunch.’
      • ‘The gold plated acrylic idol of ‘Happy Man’ carrying a gunny bag full of treasure, and depicting prosperity, was the pick of the lots.’
      • ‘The stand-off was the pick of the team, kicking two penalties and converting their try after a concerted drive by the forwards.’
      • ‘The Bar team is made up of the pick of their elite golfers.’
      • ‘Champagne is the pick of the crop in the wine market.’
      best, finest, top, choice, choicest, prime, cream, flower, prize, treasure, pearl, gem, jewel, the jewel in the crown, the crème de la crème, elite, elect
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    2. 1.2Someone or something that has been selected.
      ‘the club made him their first pick’
      • ‘"As soon as they opened the case and charged him, he was their pick and there was no suggestion of letting off."’
      • ‘The said he was their pick because he took an airline that was losing money and made it profitable.’
      • ‘The Rays called across the bay on Tuesday to tell him he was their pick in the third round of the amateur draft.’
      • ‘It seems that the judges were rather parsimonious with their scores, but by giving her the highest scores, it was clear that she was their pick for the title.’
      • ‘When the co-ordinators at the Miss World Canada pageant called her to tell her she was their pick, she was ecstatic and surprised.’
  • 2Basketball
    An act of blocking or screening a defensive player from the ball handler, allowing an open shot.

    • ‘In this example, the offense sends a big player up to set a pick near the free throw line.’
    • ‘If the ball handler brings the defender wide around the pick, its not the screener's fault.’
    • ‘One of the final areas of movement without the ball is that of coming off of picks.’
    • ‘At the same time the low man on ball side also goes away from the ball to set a pick.’
    • ‘In the triangle, players don't set picks off the ball.’


  • pick and choose

    • Select only the best or most desirable from among a number of alternatives.

      • ‘She couldn't pick and choose when it was convenient to be with me.’
      • ‘Visitors will be able to pick and choose from the hundreds of available careers and training opportunities.’
      • ‘People can now pick and choose between a wide range of ways of getting fit.’
      • ‘But he still liked the idea of being the guy who gets to pick and choose among a bevy of beauties.’
      • ‘Obviously, you have to pick and choose what works for you, but here are the things that I have found really helped me along the way.’
      • ‘He also said it would be discriminatory to limit the number of fêtes to be held in the area or to pick and choose between fete venues.’
      • ‘It just happens - whatever comes out comes out and then we pick and choose.’
      • ‘They will be able to pick and choose where they operate, while Royal Mail is obliged to keep its universal postal system up and running.’
      • ‘A leading connoisseur of bottled water last night advised consumers to pick and choose between bottled and mains water.’
      • ‘We had to sign up to the agreement, we couldn't pick and choose.’
  • pick someone's brains (or brain)

    • informal Obtain information by questioning someone who is better informed about a subject than oneself.

      • ‘They send us questionnaires to pick our brains.’
      • ‘He waited 13 years between making his first short film and his second, but that wouldn't happen today, when people with ideas sit beside him on the bus and start picking his brains.’
      • ‘‘They may be coming to see us,’ she laughs, ‘but I'll certainly take the opportunity to pick their brains.’’
      • ‘The quiz master joined us and we tried to pick his brain about where he gets his questions from.’
      • ‘Since I was not even remotely interested in purchasing comics, I spent the next hour picking his brain.’
      • ‘Thanks for being so kind and letting me pick your brain.’
      • ‘We picked their brains about the impact on soaring house prices, and the damage caused by the North / South divide.’
      • ‘I want to pick your brain on some other issues of the day first.’
      • ‘I tried to pick their brains for any better solutions on how to go about changing the law or simply fixing my own problem.’
      • ‘He knew the business side so I picked his brain on that subject.’
  • pick something clean

    • Completely remove the flesh from a bone or carcass.

      • ‘Most of the humanoid skeletons had been picked clean, but they hadn't had time to bleach white.’
      • ‘Flying scavengers have picked the bone clean.’
      • ‘She only realised it was a hedgehog a day or two later, once they'd picked the skeleton clean.’
      • ‘Once the bird is picked clean, boil up the carcass, then throw in a handful or two of barley and some vegetables and revel in the glorious Christmassy smells of turkey broth filling the whole house.’
      • ‘The Witch opened the oven, gobbled up Alyonka and picked the bone clean.’
      • ‘Stone Age communities sometimes exposed their dead instead of burying them and ravens picked the bones clean.’
      • ‘The Variant Cs would pick his bones clean in several hours.’
      • ‘His wife picked the bone clean and gave the rest to the cat.’
      • ‘I lost all decorum of table etiquette as I held the chop between my fingers and picked the bone clean.’
      • ‘My friend thoroughly enjoyed the meal, since he practically picked the bone clean.’
  • pick one's feet up

    • Raise one's feet clear of the ground when walking.

      • ‘A friend saw it happen and said the horse just never picked his feet up, even though he looked ready to jump it right in stride.’
      • ‘He picked his feet up neatly and high, stepping smartly as if he was on parade or being displayed before a panel of judges.’
      • ‘She picked her feet up as she walked. Just as she had been raised.’
      • ‘With little else to do she picked her feet up, one after the other, and trudged towards the sound that grew gratifyingly louder as she came closer to its source.’
      • ‘Walking is easier if you keep your feet facing forwards and pick your feet up with every step you take.’
  • pick a fight (or quarrel)

    • Talk or behave in such a way as to provoke an argument or fight.

      • ‘One of her neighbours has said: ‘She's picked a fight with everybody around here.’’
      • ‘‘If they want to pick a fight, they've picked a fight with the wrong guy,’ he said in a telephone interview.’
      • ‘At another time, the commission would not dare to pick a quarrel with the president over such a trifle matter.’
      • ‘Instead of picking a fight with his party, he has been forced to adopt a tone we have never heard from him before.’
      • ‘I think one of the reasons why I rarely, if ever, actually pick a fight or argument is because I play the scene out inside my head before I do anything.’
      • ‘‘Sometimes he just almost seems to pick a fight with people for the sake of picking a fight, and I don't think that can be very helpful,’ he says.’
      • ‘I don't know what kind of trouble police were expecting, but I can't see any of these kids picking a fight with anyone at this point, let alone cops with guns.’
      • ‘Her husband picks a fight with her if she seems to be happy, he shouts at her, criticises everything about her, distorts and twists things, and cannot abide her having any kind of friendships - even with her own family.’
      • ‘If we'd have been in the city, I'd have thought maybe he was picking a fight, but we were in the country and this was just a good-natured country fellow who had a few beers in him.’
      • ‘I believe that she finally came to the conclusion that if she ever picked a fight with me, she was fighting a losing battle.’
      provoke, start, cause, incite, invite, foment, stir up, whip up, encourage, kindle, instigate, excite, prompt, bring about
      View synonyms
  • pick holes in

    • Find fault with.

      • ‘It's hard to pick holes in his form and he is a worthy favourite.’
      • ‘‘Once you get into the swing of auditions, you start to realise it's possible to pick holes in almost anything,’ he grins.’
      • ‘Mistrustful regulators are picking holes in healthy companies.’
      • ‘It sometimes seems that whenever anyone proposes a forward-looking project that seems able to benefit a community and the country as a whole, a host of people and organisations rush to pick holes in the plan.’
      • ‘It often takes the form of undermining colleagues or junior employees by constant criticism, unfairly picking holes in their work or raising objections just for the sake of it.’
      • ‘The only thing I'd say is that picking holes in the pro-case is a necessary part of building the anti-case.’
      • ‘This is exactly the kind of product that professional art historians dislike, and I do not doubt that various specialists will pick holes in it.’
      • ‘Anyway, my intention wasn't to pick holes in individual campaigns, but to celebrate the richness and diversity of the political landscape.’
      • ‘My stuff was so hard to pick holes in, however, that almost all of it did eventually get published somewhere in the academic journals.’
      • ‘What is wrong with us that we need to pick holes in even the most successful initiatives instead of praising them for their success?’
      find fault with, quarrel with, fault, criticize, argue against, argue with, take exception to, attack, take issue with, find lacking, impugn, contradict, dispute, rebut, complain about, cavil at, carp at, object to, be hostile to
      find fault with, criticize, attack, condemn
      disparage, denigrate, deride, belittle, run down, complain about, quibble about, carp about, cavil at, scoff at, moan about, grouse about, grouch about, grumble about, whine about
      knock, bad-mouth, do down, gripe about, beef about, bellyache about, bitch about, whinge about, nitpick over, sound off about, pull to pieces
      slag off, have a go at, rubbish
      View synonyms
  • pick a lock

    • Open a lock with an instrument other than the proper key.

      • ‘She thanked her high school boyfriend for teaching her how to pick a lock when a sudden wave of dizziness washed over her.’
      • ‘If a person picks a lock that belongs to someone else, chances are the person will be arrested and face serious breaking-and-entering charges.’
      • ‘It's a simple matter to pick a lock and get in through the window, emerging in an unoccupied bedroom.’
      • ‘For example, regardless of how good a thief you are, you need more equipment than a small piece of metal to pick a lock.’
      • ‘A lock doesn't even slow down a criminal; few would take the time to pick a lock.’
      • ‘The posters pictured a person crouched down, picking a lock, and a woman making an emergency call.’
      • ‘I think he would probably employ professionals, people who would have no problem picking a lock on a cell.’
      • ‘One of the first lessons that the agents learned was that you didn't pick a lock - instead you manipulated or pushed the lock back, using a protractor.’
      • ‘Using the screwdriver wasn't the most stylish way to pick a lock, but it got the job done.’
      • ‘She looked around for anything that could be used to pick a lock.’
      force open, break open, prise open, open without a key, break into
      View synonyms
  • pick someone's pockets

    • Steal something surreptitiously from another person's pocket.

      • ‘You just said that we were going to pick their pockets, not con them.’
      • ‘If you want to be more cautious though, you might want to keep your cash in your pockets while traveling so that at least you'll have some cash handy in case someone picks your pockets.’
      • ‘He would pick their pockets and swipe their watches without them noticing - always owning up afterwards, of course.’
      • ‘I let his hands roam, explore, the knife having disappeared once more, probably back into his pocket, but I didn't dare try picking his pockets to get it back this time, not after just having succeeded in distracting him from a tantrum.’
      • ‘Ken, when will you learn that Alex never stops picking your pockets?’
      • ‘I may also pick his pockets while he's talking about himself and how awesome he is.’
      • ‘They have effectively picked our pockets in full view of us and we can't do a thing!’
      • ‘He is prepared to hug us and take us by the hand - not to mention theatrically attempting to pick our pockets.’
      • ‘Certainly it gave her lots of time to pick their pockets.’
  • pick someone/something to pieces (or apart)

    • Criticize someone or something severely and in detail.

      • ‘I quite enjoy picking advertisements to pieces and I suspect a lot of other people do too.’
      • ‘We surveyed him, and he picked the questions to pieces.’
      • ‘I love the people who write reviews and pick it apart and haven't even seen the film.’
      • ‘Silenced by infirmity, if not by simple good taste, the former leader has had to stand aside while her legacy is picked apart.’
      • ‘Ok, so I don't really feel like picking this story apart right now.’
      • ‘Let's embrace her instead of picking her apart.’
      • ‘The story is so distressing that it is not at first clear whether it is moral or useful to pick it apart.’
      • ‘Once you start picking things apart, you'll never solve the problem.’
      • ‘I could spend more time picking his column apart, but I won't because I think you get my general point.’
      • ‘It's human nature to pick people apart and you're under all this scrutiny.’
  • pick up the pieces

    • Restore one's life or a situation to a more normal state, typically after a shock or disaster.

      • ‘Now justice has been done they must try to pick up the pieces of their lives - knowing that one piece will be missing for ever.’
      • ‘With mother hospitalised through the shock, Zoe is left to pick up the pieces.’
      • ‘His latest post will, in many ways, be about picking up the pieces to restore public confidence in social services.’
      • ‘These are two crashes that didn't need to happen and now the families are picking up the pieces.’
      • ‘It was wonderful, we were picking up the pieces of our lives again.’
      • ‘Thousands of hours of consular time are spent picking up the pieces after easily avoidable accidents.’
      • ‘Why would someone else not have picked up the pieces in that situation?’
      • ‘As a nation painfully picks up the pieces of its shattered character, its people know they have a while to go before they eventually heal from years of pain and abuse.’
      • ‘Many women are forced into this situation and I see their lives and I help them pick up the pieces.’
      • ‘What happens when a people have been ‘saved'. Who picks up the pieces?’
  • pick up the threads

    • Resume something that has been interrupted.

      • ‘They visited some of the worst affected areas; they heard the stories from women who did not know how they would pick up the threads of their lives again.’
      • ‘So, we are slowly picking up the threads of our ‘normal’ lives although I confess I do feel as if I need a vacation from my vacation.’
      • ‘You will, with the help of your parents, pick up the threads when you are released.’
      • ‘He can now look forward to picking up the threads of his life having, to repeat his mother's words been ‘given the gift of life’.’
      • ‘Despite destroyed homes and broken lives, the women have picked up the threads of their trade.’
      • ‘Physically battered with no support, she picked up the threads of her life, working as a teacher in a private school.’
      • ‘You have to be able to remember where you were so you can pick up the threads and continue after an interruption.’
      • ‘It was two years before she began to pick up the threads of her life.’
      • ‘How do you pick up the threads of an old life, when you know in your heart, it will never be the same again.’
      • ‘We will pick up the threads of things that were done well in the last government.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • pick someone/something off

    • 1Shoot a member of a group of people or things, aiming carefully from a distance.

      • ‘The enemies are kind enough to walk one behind another in a straight line, making it easy to pick them off with sniper rifles.’
      • ‘The snipers would pick you off but they are afraid to hit the little girl you are hiding in front of you.’
      • ‘John squinted at the rusty cans, deciding which one to shoot first, and picked them off one by one.’
      • ‘Hardy's men were shooting down on the soldiers, picking them off one by one.’
      • ‘Towards the middle of the game you will find yourself sneaking around, picking the enemy off from a distance, or using items to distract your opponents.’
      • ‘One by one they were picked off by the fell poison tipped arrows until it was just Dr. Steve.’
      • ‘The flames of war burned brighter than ever within this divided family as one by one the members were picked off.’
      • ‘At the peak of the insurrection, the defenders ran out of tear gas, and snipers began attempts to pick them off.’
      • ‘As many civilians tried to leave the city, they were picked off by snipers.’
      • ‘And see if you can guess the order in which the other members of the research team will be picked off and which characters will make it to the end credits.’
      gun down, fire at, hit, put a bullet in
      fell, bring down, take out, kill, bag, wound, injure
      pot, zap, plug
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Put out a runner by a pickoff.
        • ‘His arm is a strength - he not only shuts down basestealers but can pick runners off first base.’
        • ‘His first pass of the game was picked off by Atlanta on Sunday, giving the Falcons momentum.’
        • ‘In a game at Tropicana Field last season between the Twins and Devil Rays, three Devil Ray base runners were picked off in one inning!’
        • ‘He was known as the ‘computer’ of the team, possessing an uncanny ability to pick runners off of second base via the ‘hidden ball trick.’’
        • ‘Also, what if the pitcher picks the runner off base before he makes his first pitch to home?’
  • pick on

    • Repeatedly single (someone) out for blame, criticism, or unkind treatment in a way perceived to be unfair.

      • ‘Madison's been telling me a little boy in her class has been picking on her, teasing her.’
      • ‘Bullies pick on children who are alone, so can you encourage your child to make more friends and to bring them home?’
      • ‘Like playground bullies, they've picked on the weakest of the pack.’
      • ‘We have known each other since the fourth grade, when she helped me fight off a bully who was picking on me in the public park.’
      • ‘I always found it was appalling when an older kid bullied or picked on someone younger.’
      • ‘‘If someone picks on me I just ignore them and think ‘I'm better than you are’.’
      • ‘Andy, the youngest of three sons, was a very shy child who was picked on by bullies at school.’
      • ‘Why everyone picks on the poor fellow just because he is not highly adept at running his personal finances, I cannot understand.’
      • ‘They argue with each other, pick on, insult and criticise each other, and they have fun doing it as well.’
      • ‘I was always quite fat as a child, I used to get teased about it and picked on.’
      bully, victimize, tyrannize, torment, persecute
      criticize, grumble at, discriminate against
      badger, bait, goad, tease
      get at, have it in for, have a down on, be down on, needle
      View synonyms
  • pick someone/something out

    • 1Distinguish someone or something among a group of people or things.

      ‘Lester picked out two familiar voices’
      • ‘In November, the victim picked the robber out of a video identification parade.’
      • ‘She picked him out from his many siblings, including a twin brother, adopted him in secrecy and raised him in a life of privilege and safety.’
      • ‘I heard his name, but I'd never be able to pick him out of a crowd.’
      • ‘But the selective pointillism that picks it out identifies an essential pre-requisite for effective political action.’
      • ‘But an eyewitness to the attack picked him out after a video identification procedure.’
      • ‘Now they are checking identity cards, bags and can pick people out for interrogation.’
      • ‘‘I feel a bit vulnerable to be honest, because I haven't had any experience of the media,’ she says, ‘and even before we'd spoken to anyone they'd already sort of picked us out and slated us.’’
      • ‘But both girls picked him out of an identity parade.’
      • ‘He made no comment when questioned but the victim picked him out in an identity parade.’
      • ‘She says: ‘I think murals are very educational for a child because from a young age they can pick things out on the mural and identify them.’’
      see, discern, spot, distinguish, perceive, make out, detect, notice, observe, recognize, identify, catch sight of, glimpse, discover
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1(of a light) illuminate an object by shining directly on it.
        • ‘Again he came down past us, this time closer to the boat, and the light picked him out just below the surface.’
        • ‘Other scars were older, old enough to have become no more than silvery lines, hard to see until the shifting light picked them out, like the teardrop-shaped scar under her eye.’
        • ‘It was weak at such a distance, but strong enough that its light picked them out. Gunfire followed immediately.’
        • ‘The light picked her out as she stopped to slide her fingers through the grass and then moved slowly across the plaza toward the public fountain.’
        • ‘I asked him how he was caught and he told me that although he walked very small steps, every few metres dropping down into the grass, suddenly a small plane landed and picked him out in its lights.’
        • ‘A dim light picked her out, revealing a very female figure clad in a sort of ribbon-robe and eye-mask.’
        • ‘The trios move in alternation as light from above picks them out, the grounded people waving their limbs like neophyte swimmers or fledglings learning to fly.’
        • ‘He reached the middle just as a beam of strong light picked him out and he stood, dazzled, in the headlights of a long black limo.’
        • ‘"The light picked her out dramatically from the blurry dark background," he writes.’
        • ‘The powerful beans of light picked her out against the black, wet side of the cliff.’
      2. 1.2Distinguish shapes or letters from their surroundings by painting or fashioning them in a contrasting color or medium.
        ‘the initials are picked out in diamonds’
        • ‘The fuel tank was painted the same light blue as the wings with the retaining straps picked out in red to match the chassis.’
        • ‘An MG badge was cast in each cam cover at the front, with the letters and the octagon picked out in red.’
        • ‘The basic color is a dark blue, the incised patterns being picked out in red, white, green, and yellow.’
        • ‘The cypher on the reverse is picked out in diamonds and dated 1911.’
        • ‘The V for Victoria is picked out in diamonds, R for Regina in pearls and I for Imperatrix in turquoises.’
        • ‘The residents' lounge is furnished and decorated in keeping with its Victorian image, the plaster rosette on the ceiling is picked out in gold leaf, fawn and white.’
        • ‘The ornate plasterwork ceiling had lines and flowers picked out in gold leaf and deep red.’
        • ‘His watch was large and methodical, and on the outer case two hearts were picked out in diamonds from the dark solid gold.’
        • ‘The elaborate metalwork of the handsome old bridges spanning the river is picked out in brilliant colours.’
        • ‘Only the shields are picked out with carefully selected colours.’
  • pick something over (or pick through)

    • Examine or sort through a number of items carefully.

      ‘they picked through the charred remains of their home’
      • ‘There it is picked over for anything reusable and the remains incinerated.’
      • ‘They had been friends since they were seven, they didn't need to talk incessantly not to mention the events of the weekend had been picked over in detail on the phone the night before anyway.’
      • ‘Following their return to the apartment, they had picked over the details of the attack, but succeeded in merely unravelling things further.’
      • ‘She was certain news of her sudden sickness would reach the ears of the girls who had threatened her, and every little detail would be picked over, scrutinized even, to see if she had in any way flirted with or made a move on Mike.’
      • ‘Of course, this was an era before counselling, before lawyers picked over the details of disaster.’
      • ‘While he has been quite hazy about his history of drug use, the danger of being more precise is that the details could be picked over ad nauseam.’
      • ‘Papers were scattered over its surface as if they had been picked over to find a single piece of information.’
      • ‘Once the anorak-wearing fraternity have picked it over for factual errors, the debate will start over who has been left out.’
      • ‘Such problems have been picked over regularly by all and sundry, including this paper.’
      • ‘Usually the high and low end of size range will only be available because the merchandise is picked over.’
  • pick up

    • 1Become better; improve.

      ‘my luck's picked up’
      • ‘General sales need to pick up before the business improves.’
      • ‘Managers often become sentimental about products, hoping that sales will pick up when the market improves.’
      • ‘We have trained for summer rugby and our performances have improved since the weather picked up.’
      • ‘As a result, if the economy is to improve, investment must pick up.’
      • ‘Tourism started off a bit slow this year, but picked up as the summer progressed.’
      • ‘Consequently, the economy will not be able to pick up without the recovery of the banking industry.’
      • ‘Exports are expected to pick up, reflecting recovery in the eurozone economies, the country's main export market.’
      • ‘But it does not expect an improvement until trade starts picking up towards the end of the winter.’
      • ‘He doesn't see improvement until job growth picks up.’
      • ‘So if the input base of the economy is improving and working hours have been increasing then surely the rate of productivity improvement in Scotland must be picking up?’
      improve, get better, recover, mend, be on the road to recovery, rally, make a comeback, bounce back, perk up, look up, take a turn for the better, turn a corner, turn the corner, be given on a new lease of life, be take on a new lease of life, be on the mend, develop, make headway, progress, make progress, advance
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Become stronger; increase.
        ‘the wind has picked up’
        • ‘As the pace of the storm increased the wind picked up, driving down out of the hills and across the high grasslands.’
        • ‘Treetops danced back and forth in the sky as the wind picked up in intensity, a sure sign of an impending storm.’
        • ‘That evening the blizzard picks up again, with strong winds blowing snow across the flat delta.’
        • ‘Forecasters are predicting that the icy conditions will continue into next week with easterly winds picking up and a strong possibility of snow.’
        • ‘A strong wind picks up almost knocking me off the branch, as well as making leaves whip at my face.’
        • ‘The dewy grasses fluttered around Ryan as a stronger wind picked up and ripped them from the hill.’
        • ‘As if to prove his point, a slightly stronger wind picked up, blowing Caelyn's hair into her face.’
        • ‘Even stronger winds are expected to pick up over the weekend.’
        • ‘The wind had picked up strength, thumping hard against the window every couple of minutes.’
        • ‘I noticed the wind picking up and the lightening increasing, so I figured rain couldn't be far behind.’
        get stronger, strengthen, become more powerful, blow up
        View synonyms
  • pick oneself up

    • Stand up again after a fall.

      • ‘Once, she fell and couldn't pick herself up but I dragged her nonetheless.’
      • ‘‘Not funny’ Jonathon grumbled, picking himself up and straightening out.’
      • ‘However, he quickly picked himself up and the ball fell kindly into his path once again.’
      • ‘She picked herself up and straightened out her jacket and shirt, she felt in the pocket and pulled out her cigarettes.’
      • ‘And then again, he finally picks himself up, only to fall again.’
      • ‘But it doesn't seem to matter - when they fall they simply pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get straight back on, just as you're supposed to.’
      • ‘I picked myself up and straightened my clothes.’
      • ‘If he fell, he picked himself up and got straight back on to the climb.’
      • ‘She fell but picked herself up just as quickly, continuing to shove her way through in anxiety, ignoring their angry yelps and hollers.’
      • ‘You'll learn the basics, including turning, stopping, adjusting your bindings and, of course, picking yourself up when you fall.’
  • pick someone up

    • 1Go somewhere to collect someone, typically in one's car and according to a prior arrangement.

      • ‘The school was nearby and they picked me up for training a few days later.’
      • ‘Archer picks her up from the train station, and they talk in the carriage about the impossibility of their love.’
      • ‘The time Carla picked me up from the train station in my mother's manual car, even though at that stage she could only drive an automatic.’
      • ‘Renae's parents picked her up from the train station at 6'o'clock in the evening to take her home.’
      • ‘My aunt lives there, and my grandma is trying to arrange for her to pick me up from the train station.’
      • ‘I tell you what, you can pick me up from the train station at about half past six, OK?’
      • ‘But what's to stop her from just picking us up at the hotel?’
      • ‘She came all the way to pick you up from training.’
      • ‘I don't even remember picking you up from the train station!’
      • ‘With the weather like this, I didn't mind why my parents didn't pick me up from my bus stop today.’
      fetch, collect, go to get, come and get, go and get, call for, come for, go for
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Stop for someone and take them into one's vehicle or vessel.
        • ‘And it has its own jetty, where you can be picked up by boat and spirited to the superior diving and snorkelling sites around Tiran.’
        • ‘As most of the hotels are on the waterfront, the boats will pick you up from the jetty behind yours and drop you back.’
        • ‘This driver saw the students running to the stop but refused to stop and pick them up.’
        • ‘If you hail another type of cab and it stops to pick you up, then your journey in that cab will not be covered by insurance.’
        • ‘After about an hour we were picked up by another boat and taken to shore.’
        • ‘On Aug.30, rescuers picked him up in a boat and deposited him on an interstate.’
        • ‘He said some passengers scrambled onto nearby Highway 401, where cars stopped, picked them up and took them to the airport.’
        • ‘The regular train came along, stopped, picked her up and off she went.’
        • ‘The ferry stopped, launched a boat and picked them up - they had paddled 14 miles across the Channel - at 7am.’
        • ‘The taxi passed through the main drinking area, and people were literally throwing themselves on the bonnet of the car to try and force it to stop and pick them up.’
      2. 1.2informal Arrest someone.
        • ‘She called the police, who promptly picked him up.’
        • ‘Robert and Brendan were picked up by a passing police patrol car.’
        • ‘One day the police pick him up and an inspector interviews him; he is released for lack of evidence.’
        • ‘Two weeks ago, Alex was picked up and arrested for assault and prostitution.’
        • ‘Early morning of 12 September, a team of police officers picked him up from the outskirts of his village.’
        • ‘They just said all they had to do was get a warrant for his arrest and go and pick him up.’
        • ‘The same night the police raided the houses of many relatives to pick them up.’
        • ‘But detectives said they were not going to pick him up as he was not wanted in relation to any charges or criminal investigations.’
        • ‘When told of the reason for the rejected claim, the patient produced an arrest warrant stating that she has been picked up for prostitution and her prescription was confiscated by the police.’
        • ‘Although he had been picked up by the police on a routine check, he was not ill-treated by them.’
        arrest, apprehend, detain, take into custody, take prisoner, seize, capture, catch, take in
        View synonyms
      3. 1.3informal Casually strike up a relationship with someone one has never met before, as a sexual overture.
        • ‘If I'm in drag, and he picks me up at a gay bar, is it a queer relationship?’
        • ‘I ran into him years later at a senior class car wash when I was eighteen and he tried to pick me up.’
        • ‘He tried to pick me up at the bar. I am not sure how I feel about it.’
        • ‘‘Only if you stop trying to pick me up,’ said Shelley, but the smile on her face told Zachary she found his antics amusing.’
        • ‘He was with the woman who had picked him up at the train station, a Colombian poet.’
        • ‘A few weeks later he tried to pick me up at a bar.’
        • ‘But, I met him when I was 18 years old - by accident - he tried to pick me up in a bar when I was out with my friends.’
        • ‘I want you to stop picking me up for practice or bothering me in the halls.’
        • ‘I ran into him at a club in my early 20s, and he tried to pick me up.’
        • ‘I talked to a guy online for about a minute and a half and he tried to pick me up.’
        strike up a casual acquaintance with, strike up a casual relationship with, take up with
        View synonyms
      4. 1.4Make someone feel more energetic and cheerful.
        ‘songs to pick you up and make you feel good’
  • pick something up

    • 1Collect something that has been left elsewhere.

      ‘Wanda came over to pick up her things’
      • ‘His brother picked it up and delivered it to him within moments.’
      • ‘But by the time they went to pick up the suitcase, it could not be found.’
      • ‘‘They told me to take the bag home and they informed Royal Mail, who came and picked it up,’ she said.’
      • ‘I wish I could have personally met you when I came to pick up the suitcase on Tuesday.’
      • ‘I'm afraid she doesn't work here anymore, just this morning she came to pick up her things.’
      • ‘Then her father came to pick up her things - her clothes, tennis shoes, a bottle of mineral water.’
      • ‘I was emailed to pick it up from another building.’
      • ‘Anyway, they came to pick up her things that were stored in the basement this summer.’
      • ‘Once you have obtained your ticket, your luggage will be picked up shortly.’
      • ‘He just came to pick up his things - and to give Brooke back his wedding ring!’
      • ‘When she came to pick up her things I made her some lunch and we had a little chat.’
      • ‘He would have had to hire a private contractor to come pick that stuff up.’
      • ‘But one day when I came to pick up my things they weren't there. There was nothing there, no sign of them anywhere.’
      • ‘Whilst we sat waiting for our food to arrive, a steady stream of customers came to pick up take-away orders.’
      • ‘If your magic runs a bit short, you can order a copy from the local bookstore, and the hotel will pick it up and deliver it to you after midnight.’
      1. 1.1informal Pay the bill for something, especially when others have contributed to the expense.
        ‘as usual, we had to pick up the tab’
        • ‘But the Council is £200,000 in the red, the executive committee heard yesterday, and if that is still the case next year the bill will be picked up by the authority.’
        • ‘In which event, any medical bills will be picked up by the taxpayer, not by the company.’
        • ‘The bills were picked up by some of the biggest names in the business world.’
        • ‘The rest of the bill is picked up by private insurance companies who decide what they'll pay in their corporate boardrooms.’
        • ‘It is understood around €3 million has been incurred by the aviation regulator's office, whose costs will be picked up by the authorities in addition to its own bill.’
        • ‘When they played well, he handed out cash bonuses and picked up bar tabs. When they lost, he still picked up the tab.’
        • ‘So there's a sort of change in the attitude towards social welfare in the sense that people believe that they're being forced to pick that bill up, but generally people felt that more money should be available.’
        • ‘Who picked up the tab for his childhood immunisations and his education?’
        • ‘Unlike the board, whose legal bills are picked up by the public, opponents of school closings often run out of money to continue their fights.’
        • ‘She added: "In line with 'polluter pays' principle it's time the tobacco companies picked up the tab for the harm their products are doing."’
      2. 1.2North American Tidy a room or building.
        • ‘So, instead of just verbally telling him, "Pick up your room," we write down: Put dirty clothes in laundry basket, Put magazines on shelf, Put LEGOs back in box.’
        • ‘Every day someone made up the beds and picked up the room while we were out.’
        • ‘I set Lucie on the couch and picked up the room making it just as neat as it was when we left.’
        • ‘The cabin steward picked up the room and made the beds at least twice a day, and she was very nice.’
        • ‘We picked up the room, got dressed, and prepared Brandon's breakfast.’
    • 2Obtain, acquire, or learn something, especially without formal arrangements or instruction.

      ‘he had picked up a little Russian from his father’
      • ‘It's the only way to learn and it's amazing how quickly you can pick it up.’
      • ‘She was all right with it when her girlfriends found out but she was not too comfortable now that unfamiliar people around her were picking this information up.’
      • ‘They also learn very quickly and easily pick things up.’
      • ‘Coming from a keyboard, having learned to read, once I picked it up and learned how to blow it, the music came quicker.’
      • ‘Vic had learned to drive at fourteen, from his old man, and had picked it up as easily as fishes learn to swim.’
      • ‘He picked it up quickly - watched a lot of TV and learnt to read English.’
      • ‘I started to learn Thai, I just seem to pick it up and now can speak it pretty well.’
      • ‘He has certainly picked things up quicker than I imagined.’
      • ‘Posters around the village give details of the events and information where competition forms can be picked up.’
      • ‘He picked it up quickly, learning by himself because he thought it was fun.’
      find, discover, locate, come across, stumble across, happen on, chance on, unearth, obtain, come by, come to have, get, receive, procure
      learn, get to know, acquire skill in, become competent in, become proficient in, master
      hear, hear tell, find out, get to know, get wind of, be informed of, be told, learn, be made aware of, be given to understand
      View synonyms
      1. 2.1Catch an illness or infection.
        • ‘Meningococcal meningitis vaccines is also required by the authorities as these infections can be picked up from fellow travellers (carriers).’
        • ‘Any infection or disease present in the slurry can be picked up by these people and animals in the course of their headlong, indiscriminate rush to the killing scene.’
        • ‘Previously worn and dirty clothes contain the same foul odour producing bacteria and you will pick the infection up again within seconds of contact.’
        • ‘Some infections can be picked up by pregnant women and transferred to the developing baby via the placenta.’
        • ‘For every patient and their family there is no acceptable level of MRSA but we all know that when people are in an acute hospital system, there is a chance that an infection can be picked up.’
        • ‘The mosquitoes pick the virus up from biting infected pigs or waterfowl and then pass the virus on when they bite humans.’
        • ‘But she is very susceptible to infections and if she were to pick something up then it could be fatal.’
        • ‘Once chlamydia has been successfully treated, it won't come back unless a new infection is picked up.’
        • ‘They in turn will multiply the infection and the later lambs to pick it up will become very badly infected.’
        • ‘Many new cases are picked up by men sleeping with infected prostitutes in places like Thailand, where the virus is rife.’
        catch, contract, get, become infected with, become ill with, come down with, go down with
        View synonyms
    • 3Detect or receive a signal or sound, especially by means of electronic apparatus.

      • ‘One of its benefits will be anyone sending distress signals from land or sea will know immediately if their signal has been picked up.’
      • ‘These signals are picked up by a handheld receiver.’
      • ‘These signals are picked up by a computer and turned into detailed pictures.’
      • ‘The reflected sound waves are picked up by the crystal element and transformed back into electric signals.’
      • ‘These electromagnetic waves are picked up by your car's antenna and then converted into recognizable noise - music, talk shows, and the like - by the tuner.’
      • ‘The signals were picked up late yesterday after an all-day search for the spacecraft, which had suddenly stopped communicating after its launch, the US scientists had said.’
      • ‘The reflected signals are picked up by microphones in the cane handle, processed by a miniature computer, then converted into pulses which the user can feel through his hand.’
      • ‘It amplifies them, and sends them out, just like a radio, and the receiver picks them up in the other person ear.’
      • ‘Of the 18 access points whose signals were picked up, 13 were sending unencrypted messages.’
      • ‘The air force forced a light plane to land on Saturday after an emergency signal was picked up indicating the aircraft had been hijacked.’
      receive, detect, get, hear
      View synonyms
      1. 3.1Become aware of or sensitive to something.
        ‘she is very quick to pick up emotional atmospheres’
        • ‘The penalty for misclassifying a genotoxic compound (false negatives that reflect low sensitivity) is low as it would be picked up in the later regulatory test.’
        • ‘Sufferers normally have a one-in-three chance of survival, depending on how early the symptoms are picked up.’
        • ‘Body work performed on owners and pets works well because animals pick up on stress and often mimic their owners.’
        • ‘A lot of infections can be picked up very early.’
        • ‘The problems were picked up when an infection control nurse, who started work with the PCT this spring, examined procedures at the surgery.’
        • ‘She's pretty sensitive at picking these things up.’
        • ‘Children pick up on stress so if you're unhappy, they will be too.’
        • ‘Babies and toddlers do pick up on stress in the home and often act out what they are unable to put into words.’
        • ‘The faster these changes are picked up the quicker you will be able to react to drops in rankings.’
        • ‘These emotions can be picked up; dogs smell fear, a child knows if it is loved or not, and so forth.’
      2. 3.2Find and take a particular road or route.
        • ‘Eventually, after asking for directions a number of times, we picked up the road south and headed off.’
        • ‘We then picked up the road again and followed it through to our next downhill, a rocky, fast, narrow trail which deposits the rider at great speed at the foot of Biggin Hill.’
        • ‘You can pick the road up in Saunces, at the top of town next to Viares Square, home of the Town Hall.’
        • ‘I dropped down into Balmaha, which seemed to be mostly closed, and picked up the road heading North alongside the Loch.’
        • ‘I'm already looking forward to returning in a few years to pick the road up where I've left off.’
    • 4Resume something.

      ‘they picked up their friendship without the slightest difficulty’
      • ‘They laughed about their shared affection for Martinis and picked up their friendship where they'd left off.’
      • ‘The two young men were acquainted with each other and picked up their friendship again Sunday.’
      • ‘They picked up their relationship almost from where they'd left off, but it wasn't the same.’
      • ‘I didn't get a chance to finish it but I think I'll pick it up soon.’
      • ‘Last year they had a falling out but in the past few months had made amends with each other and picked up their friendship where they had left off.’
      • ‘The evening ended with a good-night kiss, and they quickly picked up their relationship where they'd left off. "We fell in love all over again," Dave says.’
      begin again, begin, take up, start again, start, resume, recommence, carry on, go on, continue
      View synonyms
      1. 4.1Refer to or develop a point or topic mentioned earlier.
        ‘Dawson picked up her earlier remark’
        • ‘I realise that some people have been frustrated that their particular concerns have not been picked up on, but a number of the issues raised were important but were not within the scope of the bill.’
        • ‘He picked up his remark, replying "Yes, taking care of eight children is a man sized job."’
        • ‘I think it's interesting what traditions are picked up on and what countries are referenced in that.’
        • ‘A lot of the Cultural Commission's recommendations have been picked up and used.’
        • ‘Often in things like this, one journalist builds a list of instances, and then it gets flipped from story to story as other journalists pick it up.’
        • ‘And given the scientist adherence to a kind of Creative Commons ethos, their developments could be picked up and expanded upon by anyone in those fields, but no one could actually own the development itself.’
        • ‘He picked up on a story that had been on ABC News two days earlier.’
        • ‘I am appalled this issue was not picked up on in the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee.’
        • ‘When these inaccuracies were picked up on by the blog community and exposed by several news outlets, the story was removed from the News web site.’
        • ‘But my sister made a very moving speech and picked it up on my behalf.’
        • ‘The press picked up his remark and on the front page of the newspaper the next day, I was depicted in a cartoon.’
        • ‘Those things have not been picked up on because we are in Opposition, and they are what anybody would expect to hear from an Opposition.’
        • ‘Someone here other than us has finally picked this story up.’
        • ‘For when he did make an outrageous remark it was picked up on, and he was fired within hours.’
        • ‘Soon after, the Melbourne Age reported on the lone refugee's plight, and the story was picked up widely.’
      2. 4.2(of an object or color) attractively accentuate the color of something else by being of a similar shade.
        • ‘The room is carpeted with a loop pile in a medium toned brown that picks up the browns in the fireplace travertine.’
        • ‘The area rug picks up the blues in the pre-existing furniture while introducing a range of browns into the mix.’
        • ‘It is framed in natural wood, which picks up the browns of the bureau on which the cup and letter rest.’
        • ‘The landscape picks up the blues, the green-brown, and the grey-browns of the foreground.’
        • ‘This will provide a nice grassy feeling underfoot, and you can easily pick this color up in throw pillows or other accents.’
        • ‘The focal is a lampwork bead with a dark coral base and encased in silvered glass which picks up the blues and creams very well from the necklace.’
  • pick up after

    • Tidy up things left strewn around by (someone)

      • ‘Through a huge duration of my life, someone has always picked up after me.’
      • ‘Environmentally conscious citizens tired of picking up after careless smokers are welcoming the formation of the national anti-butt littering body.’
      • ‘A spokesman for the group said: ‘Too much money is spent on picking up after mindless litter louts.’’
      • ‘It's an idea that seems to be garnering preliminary approval from outdoor professionals who must log time picking up after careless campers.’
      • ‘If I were to be someone's guest for a week, I'd pick up after myself.’
      • ‘You have no conscience, no sense of responsibility, and I am sick unto death of picking up after you!’
      • ‘So I made a bold decision: I cleaned my room, threw out all the dirty candy wrappers and half finished pop cans, dusted off old books, and picked up after myself.’
      • ‘I'm tired of doing all the work around here and picking up after everybody’
      • ‘Though she would never admit to it, it sure felt good to have a man to pick up after.’
      • ‘Jas still lives at home and still picks up after me.’


Middle English (earlier as pike, which continues in dialect use): of unknown origin. Compare with Dutch pikken pick, peck and German picken peck, puncture also with French piquer to prick.




Main definitions of pick in English

: pick1pick2



  • 1A tool consisting of a long handle set at right angles in the middle of a curved iron or steel bar with a point at one end and a chisel edge or point at the other, used for breaking up hard ground or rock.

    • ‘Soon we encountered rocks and went back to get picks.’
    • ‘The raiders broke in the door of the post office at the corner in the village and tried to dislodge the safe using picks and chisels.’
    • ‘Men threw picks, rocks and all sorts of things at the guards.’
    • ‘Every one scattered and began hastily pounding on the rock walls with their picks.’
    • ‘All day for a week, she and other members of her team scoured the arid landscape for fossils, their only tools a tiny pick and a brush.’
    • ‘There were picks, shovels, knives, swords and axes.’
    • ‘Kate slammed her pick into the rock wall of the quarry.’
    • ‘Their tools were jacks, picks, crowbars, wheelbarrows and handcarts.’
    • ‘The standard tools of the navvies were picks, shovels and a wheelbarrow.’
    • ‘She said it was painful that as a woman she had had to work so hard with a pick.’
    • ‘But when he came back from lunch break, his pick had been stolen.’
    • ‘To speed the process on rougher surfaces, they also used a scabbling pick, which was similar to an ordinary pick only shorter of handle and stout of casting.’
    • ‘The head is welded directly to the shaft, so if the pick breaks, the tool is ruined.’
    • ‘They worked with picks, breaking up the soil which was then passed through a riddle to recover artefacts.’
    • ‘Even as she swung the pick into the rock, he could see how difficult it was for her.’
    • ‘He pulled up on his ice tools, their picks precariously dug into soft snow.’
    • ‘Soon he learnt to recognise, simply from looking at a dried patch of mud, whether it was worth breaking its crust with his pick.’
    • ‘What they have to understand is that this place was once just a hole in the ground cut by teams of labourers with picks and shovels and lots and lots of dynamite.’
    • ‘The ice at this stage had fused into one large mass and had to be broken with a pick before it could be used.’
    • ‘The newer combination entrenching tool added a pick, which helped break up hard soil.’
    1. 1.1
      short for ice pick
  • 2An instrument for picking.

    ‘an ebony hair pick’
    • ‘They will also require tools to unsnarl their hair; a pick and a vented hair brush work very well.’
    • ‘The woman dressed in the loose, mint colored smock was carefully using a pick to arrange the hair of the woman in her chair.’
    • ‘Tousle the hair with a styling pick before finishing with a holding spray.’
    • ‘Using a hair pick or the tail of a rattail comb separate out a strand of hair from the front section of the hairline near the forehead.’
    • ‘You even carry a hair pick in the back pocket of your excruciatingly tight black jeans - just in case it gets a little windy.’
    1. 2.1informal A plectrum.
      ‘a pink guitar pick’
      • ‘She became aware of the guitar pick in her pocket once again, then pushed thoughts of it out of her mind.’
      • ‘Jackie smiled at the freshman, holding a guitar in one hand, music in the other, and a guitar pick in between her teeth.’
      • ‘He picks up a handful of guitar picks and heads for the checkout.’
      • ‘I grabbed my guitar pick in my hand and started to strum on the chords.’
      • ‘He threw a guitar pick at Connor who caught it after 2 attempts.’
      • ‘‘Come in,’ Jason said as he strummed at his electric guitar with a well-worn pick.’
      • ‘She reached into her pocket, and pulled out a thick black cord with a green guitar pick attached to it.’
      • ‘The strings are made of silk or nylon and are plucked by the artist with picks called plectrum attached to their thumb and first two fingers.’
      • ‘He pushed past the boys that had been talking about getting his guitar pick and swept me up in his arms.’
      • ‘He had a guitar pick in his mouth and had his facial hair trimmed into a soul patch.’
      • ‘He admitted this was only his fourth show without a backing band, which may account for him dropping his pick into the guitar midsong.’
      • ‘Her battered old acoustic guitar lay on her untidily made bed along with several of the Tolkein novels and a box of guitar picks.’
      • ‘I was leaning against the wall, mindlessly strumming my guitar, my fingers clutching a bright green pick, my hair falling into my eyes.’
      • ‘With a shrug he got out his pick, shifted the guitar in his lap, and played the notes on the stanzas.’
      • ‘Laura patted her pockets, finally coming up with her guitar pick and one of Carrie's colored pencils.’
      • ‘I went to my drawer where I kept my new strings but all that was in it was a notebook, some pens and guitar picks.’
      • ‘Pat threw his drumsticks into the crowd, while Jay threw his guitar pick.’
      • ‘It was mindblowingly loud when they started attacking the strings with picks, each guitar hooked up to an amp.’
      • ‘He finally picked out everything, from the guitar to picks to the strap and amp, wrote it all down and came up with the exact cost.’
      • ‘Once they found their bags, they stuffed them with everything from clothes and toiletries to spare picks and drumsticks.’
    2. 2.2
      short for toothpick


Middle English: variant of pike.