Main definitions of pick in English

: pick1pick2

pick1

verb

  • 1with 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’
    • ‘Flora dropped a pile of freshly picked fruits next to him.’
    • ‘A girl runs frenzied, searching, sometimes stopping briefly to pick some flowers eager but not bright, hopeful and wanting.’
    • ‘Meat and fish were curried or peppered in order to preserve them and we picked the abundant fruit that grew in our garden.’
    • ‘On average they take 120 days to grow, and are picked sooner than regular carrots to preserve tenderness.’
    • ‘The process consists of reselecting the original azalea seeds, sowing them, letting them flower, picking the best and taking cuttings.’
    • ‘It has a mild tranquillising effect, which you can experience by merely picking the flower buds and inhaling their scent.’
    • ‘Organic soups are often comprised of freshly picked vegetables and beans.’
    • ‘There was a man outside cutting wood for fire and a woman picking vegetables and fruits from a garden.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The week normally starts with the farmers picking their fruit and vegetables on Monday.’
    • ‘I went outside and watered them and picked the fruits and vegetables.’
    • ‘Observe your vegetables all summer and pick those for seed that are the best - perhaps in yield, taste, disease resistance, vigour or early ripening.’
    • ‘If you want lots of small fruits, keep picking the squashes young.’
    • ‘The warm, earthy smell of freshly picked vegetables used to pervade the whole atmosphere.’
    • ‘We would buy fresh fruit and pick fresh vegetables from a small garden in the back.’
    • ‘A flower vase stood on the table, a few freshly picked flowers inserted in it.’
    • ‘Local children will be invited to pick the fruit to encourage them to eat a healthy diet.’
    • ‘What should I do with my autumn-fruiting raspberry plants after I have picked the fruits?’
    • ‘When the harvest is ready, children from the estate will be invited to pick the fruit.’
    • ‘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.’
    harvest, gather, gather in, collect, take in, pluck, pull, dig, crop, reap, bring home
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Take hold of and lift or move.
      ‘he picked a match out of the box’
      ‘picking her up, he carried her into the next room’
      • ‘Grudgingly, I pulled myself out of my chair and walked to the phone, picking it up and putting the receiver to my ear.’
      • ‘I was about to fish out my wallet again when the guy picked up my bag of things.’
      • ‘She quickly picked up the phone and dialed the number as quickly as possible.’
      • ‘He quickly picked up the phone and dialed in Jim's pager number.’
      • ‘Breathless, I gingerly picked up the two pieces of jewelry, scrutinizing them thoroughly.’
      • ‘In pair lifts, one partner picks the other up off the ice and later places that partner back down on it.’
      • ‘She collapsed on the couch, and picked the phone receiver up again.’
      • ‘The tracking system uses sensors hidden under Gillette shelves to detect when products are picked up.’
      • ‘I missed, and as I walked toward my ball, I reached down to pick up my cigarette.’
      • ‘Stooping down, he picked up my bag, slinging it over his shoulder.’
      • ‘He left his ball on the green, picked up his bag, and walked back to the parking lot.’
      • ‘A player picked up the ball and ran him out.’
      • ‘Too excited to be irritated by her cat, she quickly picked up the phone.’
      • ‘My mom picked up the book, flipping through the pages.’
      • ‘He counts to five, then picks the receiver up again.’
      • ‘Out in the pond I had fantastic views of a whiskered tern wheeling around and picking food of some sort out of the water.’
      • ‘Kevin moved in for a closer look, then picked one up.’
      • ‘A sensor module in the bag's handle detects when the bag has been picked up, indicating that the owner might be leaving.’
      • ‘He picked his fork up gingerly, signalling the start of the meal, and spoke no more.’
      • ‘She carefully picked up her bag, heading for the exit.’
    2. 1.2pick upGolf no object Lift up one's ball, especially when conceding a hole.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘During a round last fall, he had a 20-foot putt that didn't matter, so I told him to pick up his ball.’
      • ‘I think a whole lot of amateurs make a big mistake by picking up the ball on the putting green and not putting out.’
  • 2with 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’
    • ‘Voters would choose from one candidate picked by the prime minister and 200 others nominated at random from the electoral roll.’
    • ‘Thereafter, he seemed to have an unerring knack for picking the wrong script.’
    • ‘The site picks the wrong musicians to plead its case.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘With such a distinguished cast to choose from, they picked the wrong man.’
    • ‘The other girl asked him to choose and he picked her.’
    • ‘Sure being popular would be great, but if I had to choose, I'd pick friendship over popularity anytime.’
    • ‘It was time to choose and they picked the man who would fight.’
    • ‘Also, maybe I was picking the wrong options in conversations but there was a lot that never got properly explained to me.’
    • ‘You did the wrong thing and you definitely picked the wrong person to do it with.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sabrina had chosen carefully when she picked her school.’
    • ‘We just picked the wrong people to wield the power.’
    • ‘They were given a free hand in picking the characters and choosing how they should be depicted.’
    • ‘Alternatively, people pick the first option available to them simply because it's there.’
    • ‘She picked two people to chose their teams, and as predicted, I was chosen last.’
    • ‘The options for this include picking specific cities, metropolitan areas, or even a distance radius from a specific point.’
    • ‘There certainly are a number of candidates to choose from when picking the players most likely to come through in key situations.’
    • ‘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?’
    choose, select, pick out, single out, include, hand-pick, decide on, settle on, fix on
    choose, select, pick, single out, hand-pick, decide on, settle on, fix on
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1pick one's waywith 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’
      • ‘When I could walk again I started picking my way down the ridge, stopping a lot, staying on the trail.’
      • ‘They carefully picked their way down the ruined staircase and into the basement floor.’
      • ‘She smiles as she pays the driver and picks her way carefully through the puddles.’
      • ‘Without another word, the four strange and unlikely companions set off on foot, picking their way carefully through the field.’
      • ‘I picked my way carefully through the mess and strained to see the new arrival in our backyard.’
      • ‘He picked his way carefully through the ferns and knotted roots, focused eyes always straight ahead.’
      • ‘She continued to creep down the hillside, carefully picking her way down.’
      • ‘They were picking their way slowly along the gravel of the stream bed.’
      • ‘His eyes widened as he saw Claire carefully picking her way around the chatting students and onto the bridge.’
      • ‘They picked their way carefully across the road and stepped inside the warm, dry cathedral, pulling the doors closed behind them.’
      • ‘She walked into the living room, picking her way carefully through the darkness.’
      • ‘I slowly picked my way through the darkened streets until I was at the front door of Jason's hut.’
      • ‘She was carefully picking her way through driftwood and garbage.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Spotting it, I fell into a low crouch, picking my way slowly over holes and roots.’
      • ‘It was a case of slowly picking our way down steep hillside, occasionally dislodging small rocks which bounced and rolled to the bush below.’
      • ‘The two men slowly picked their way through the snow-covered trees and rocks.’
  • 3no object Repeatedly pull at something with one's fingers.

    ‘the old woman was picking at the sheet’
    • ‘I paced back and forth in the bedroom, fretting and picking at the skin around my fingernails.’
    • ‘She scrunched up her face and began picking at her fingernails.’
    • ‘Before she knew it, Stephanie was sitting in a taxi cab, picking at her long fingernails nervously.’
    • ‘She just sat there, looking down and quietly picking at the skin around her fingernails.’
    • ‘He looked at his fingers again, picking at the calluses on his left hand.’
    • ‘She was picking at the scabs and forcing her fingers in her ears.’
    • ‘Shrugging, Vicki lowered her gaze to her fingers picking at a tattered section of knee on her jeans.’
    • ‘She looked down at the table, her fingers picking at the white material on it.’
    • ‘She shifts on her bed, and starts picking at the loose stitching on her bedspread.’
    • ‘Holly shrugged, picking at her long, pale purple finger nails.’
    • ‘She looked down, avoiding eye contact as she brought her hands up, fiddling with her fingers and picking at her newly painted fingernails.’
    • ‘My fingers started picking at my chipped black nail polish and I kept my eyes down, concentrating on the paint chipping.’
    • ‘In my eight months away she'd become careworn, picking nervously at her fingers as she spoke, palpably lacking the confidence she once had.’
    • ‘‘I'm not scared, I'm not proud,’ she says, eyes down, picking at the glittery design on her skirt.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A girl with blonde curly hair was sitting swinging her legs and picking at her fingers.’
    • ‘His fingers were picking at a thread on my quilt.’
    • ‘Flushing, Vicki smiled and lowered her gaze, picking at the nail of her smallest finger on her left hand.’
    • ‘The drunk was picking at one of his pockets, he had pulled it inside out.’
    1. 3.1with object Make (a hole) in fabric by pulling at it with one's fingers.
      ‘she picked a hole in her tights’
      • ‘My sister picked a hole in her navy school tights as we sat and listened.’
      • ‘Somebody, at one point, had carefully picked a hole in the fabric, leaving a peephole to the room.’
    2. 3.2 Eat food or a meal in small amounts or without much appetite.
      ‘she picked at her breakfast’
      • ‘I nodded and picked at the food that was set in front of me.’
      • ‘Matt picked at his food, not noticing the worried looks his mother shot him.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Suze picked at her Thai food, and looked at the assembled table with her deep eyes.’
      • ‘She seemed distracted, not fully listening to him, and she picked at her food.’
      • ‘She picked at the food but it tasted like ash in her mouth.’
      • ‘She took another sip of her wine, and picked at her food.’
      • ‘I picked at my food, my entire appetite deserting me after the first few mouthfuls.’
      • ‘The other young ladies picked at their food, eating little.’
      • ‘Silently, I picked at my food, nibbling on it mindlessly.’
      • ‘I wasn't very hungry so I just picked at my food, barely nibbling on it.’
      • ‘Julie picked at the small amount of food she had put on her plate.’
      • ‘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 stared at her food, picked at it a bit, and then stood up.’
      • ‘Then finally she sat down and picked at her food.’
      • ‘‘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 picked at my food numbly as my mind tried to assess the situation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She took a bit of food and picked at it, eating little bits.’
      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
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3with object Remove unwanted matter from (one's nose or teeth) by using one's finger or a pointed instrument.
      • ‘Avoid nose blowing, rubbing, or picking while your nose is healing.’
      • ‘He idly picked his nose and then a large spot on his chin that was troubling him.’
      • ‘Gone are the days when he insisted, ‘if my nose needs picking, I'll pick it even if the cameras are on me’.’
      • ‘The most disgusting thing I encounter is waiters picking their noses or cutting their fingers.’
      • ‘These range from lack of concentration, shyness and disobedience to nose picking and whining.’
      • ‘The bleeding should stop and not start again, unless your nose is knocked or picked.’
      • ‘I have read your letter many times, trying to find the turning point in this relationship, and keep coming back to the nose picking.’
      • ‘My nephew Trevor is three, and he's a big fan of nose picking.’
      • ‘I injured my index finger while picking my nose.’
      • ‘There is reference, as well, to nose picking, a subject commonly avoided in media.’
      • ‘And never lick your fingers, pick your teeth, or floss at the table.’
      • ‘This included advice about regular hand washing, warnings about crowded places, and the dangers of nose picking.’
      • ‘Acne cream and nose picking is not attractive these days.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 3.4 Criticize someone in a petty way.
      ‘now, please don't start picking at Ruth’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 4with object Pluck the strings of (a guitar or banjo).

    • ‘The Chorus to this number relies on an atmospheric down shift of guitar picking and total distortion.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘Velvety vocals, sung with tenderly picked guitars and gently played piano occasionally accompanied by some harsh brass made this record.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He is bluesy; his guitar picking is flawless; his lyrics and melodies are touchingly funny.’
    • ‘‘Amnesia’ features some great guitar picking from Nicholls over a perfect lazy groove.’
    • ‘Quiet strums and broken, stammering chords suddenly twist into intense breaks of almost classical Spanish guitar and deep south string picking.’
    • ‘Take, for instance, the building repetition of the guitar picking of ‘Back to Mali’.’
    • ‘As we came to our first town, he suddenly started picking some demonically fast banjo.’
    • ‘In its third section, the piece lands into a melancholy return with a re-established tonic and some layered guitar/autoharp picking.’
    • ‘With soft acoustic picking of the guitar behind it, it's a passionate cry for support and help.’
    strum, twang, thrum, pluck, finger
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1pick something out Play a tune on a guitar or banjo slowly or with difficulty.
      ‘she began to pick out a rough melody on the guitar’
      • ‘At just four years of age she began to pick out tunes she heard on the radio on the family's Baby Grand Piano.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She started picking a gentle tune out of the instrument, the rich melody spiraling into the mild night air.’
      • ‘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.’

noun

  • 1in 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’
    • ‘There you can take your pick from an intensive 12-week course, as well as five- and one-day basic sushi classes.’
    • ‘They told me, through an interpreter, to take my pick.’
    • ‘You can either help me get over it or you have the option to divorce me, take your pick.’
    • ‘The tourist in search of adventures can take his pick.’
    • ‘Take your pick from a seaweed wrap, salt loofah body buff, Swedish massage, aromatherapy, mineral bath, and more.’
    • ‘We just walk out to the freezer in the garage and take our pick.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You can take your pick - lawyers, police or reporters.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, if you want to ring the changes with sandwiches you make at home, then take your pick from this delicious recipe selection.’
    • ‘Mains include turbot in a langoustine and scallop sauce and monkfish kebabs, or take your pick from the hefty choice of daily specials.’
    • ‘The audience will also get the chance to judge the films and to select their favourite pick for the viewer's choice award.’
    • ‘Moto-cross, skate or snowboarding - take your pick - the look is very similar, if not the same.’
    • ‘You are free, I guess, to take your pick in relation to these and similar options.’
    • ‘Take your pick and go ahead and exchange the old one.’
    • ‘We could take our pick of the brightest minds on earth.’
    • ‘Take your pick when it comes to student politics today.’
    • ‘Take your pick from a home cooked Devonshire morning tea for $5 or a delicious roast beef lunch for $15, or both!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Take your pick, but either way it's quite irrational.’
    choice, selection, option, decision
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1the pick ofinformal The person or thing perceived as the best in a particular group.
      ‘he was the pick of the 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 Bar team is made up of the pick of their elite golfers.’
      • ‘In all honesty, he is probably the pick of a bad bunch.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Champagne is the pick of the crop in the wine market.’
      • ‘Jack is the pick of a sorry bunch with six goals in 35 central defensive appearances.’
      • ‘The stand-off was the pick of the team, kicking two penalties and converting their try after a concerted drive by the forwards.’
      • ‘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.’
      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
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Someone 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.’
      • ‘When the co-ordinators at the Miss World Canada pageant called her to tell her she was their pick, she was ecstatic and surprised.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Rays called across the bay on Tuesday to tell him he was their pick in the third round of the amateur draft.’
  • 2Basketball
    An act of blocking or screening a defensive player from the ball handler, allowing an open shot.

    • ‘If the ball handler brings the defender wide around the pick, its not the screener's fault.’
    • ‘In this example, the offense sends a big player up to set a pick near the free throw line.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One of the final areas of movement without the ball is that of coming off of picks.’

Phrases

  • pick and choose

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Visitors will be able to pick and choose from the hundreds of available careers and training opportunities.’
      • ‘We had to sign up to the agreement, we couldn't pick and choose.’
      • ‘She couldn't pick and choose when it was convenient to be with me.’
      • ‘People can now pick and choose between a wide range of ways of getting fit.’
      • ‘A leading connoisseur of bottled water last night advised consumers to pick and choose between bottled and mains water.’
      • ‘It just happens - whatever comes out comes out and then we pick and choose.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But he still liked the idea of being the guy who gets to pick and choose among a bevy of beauties.’
      • ‘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.’
  • pick someone's brains (or brain)

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

      • ‘We picked their brains about the impact on soaring house prices, and the damage caused by the North / South divide.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I want to pick your brain on some other issues of the day first.’
      • ‘‘They may be coming to see us,’ she laughs, ‘but I'll certainly take the opportunity to pick their brains.’’
      • ‘Thanks for being so kind and letting me pick your brain.’
      • ‘Since I was not even remotely interested in purchasing comics, I spent the next hour picking his brain.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The quiz master joined us and we tried to pick his brain about where he gets his questions from.’
  • pick something clean

    • Completely remove the flesh from a bone or carcass.

      • ‘Stone Age communities sometimes exposed their dead instead of burying them and ravens picked the bones 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Most of the humanoid skeletons had been picked clean, but they hadn't had time to bleach white.’
      • ‘She only realised it was a hedgehog a day or two later, once they'd picked the skeleton clean.’
      • ‘Flying scavengers have picked the bone clean.’
      • ‘His wife picked the bone clean and gave the rest to the cat.’
      • ‘The Variant Cs would pick his bones clean in several hours.’
  • 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.

      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘At another time, the commission would not dare to pick a quarrel with the president over such a trifle matter.’
      • ‘‘If they want to pick a fight, they've picked a fight with the wrong guy,’ he said in a telephone interview.’
      • ‘I believe that she finally came to the conclusion that if she ever picked a fight with me, she was fighting a losing battle.’
      • ‘One of her neighbours has said: ‘She's picked a fight with everybody around here.’’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Instead of picking a fight with his party, he has been forced to adopt a tone we have never heard from him before.’
      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.

      • ‘What is wrong with us that we need to pick holes in even the most successful initiatives instead of praising them for their success?’
      • ‘My stuff was so hard to pick holes in, however, that almost all of it did eventually get published somewhere in the academic journals.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Mistrustful regulators are picking holes in healthy companies.’
      • ‘The only thing I'd say is that picking holes in the pro-case is a necessary part of building the anti-case.’
      • ‘‘Once you get into the swing of auditions, you start to realise it's possible to pick holes in almost anything,’ he grins.’
      • ‘It's hard to pick holes in his form and he is a worthy favourite.’
      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
      View synonyms
  • pick a lock

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

      • ‘The posters pictured a person crouched down, picking a lock, and a woman making an emergency call.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I think he would probably employ professionals, people who would have no problem picking a lock on a cell.’
      • ‘Using the screwdriver wasn't the most stylish way to pick a lock, but it got the job done.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She thanked her high school boyfriend for teaching her how to pick a lock when a sudden wave of dizziness washed over her.’
      • ‘A lock doesn't even slow down a criminal; few would take the time to pick a lock.’
      • ‘She looked around for anything that could be used to pick a lock.’
      • ‘For example, regardless of how good a thief you are, you need more equipment than a small piece of metal to pick a lock.’
      • ‘It's a simple matter to pick a lock and get in through the window, emerging in an unoccupied bedroom.’
      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.

      • ‘He is prepared to hug us and take us by the hand - not to mention theatrically attempting to pick our pockets.’
      • ‘Ken, when will you learn that Alex never stops picking your pockets?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Certainly it gave her lots of time to pick their pockets.’
      • ‘He would pick their pockets and swipe their watches without them noticing - always owning up afterwards, of course.’
      • ‘I may also pick his pockets while he's talking about himself and how awesome he is.’
      • ‘You just said that we were going to pick their pockets, not con them.’
      • ‘They have effectively picked our pockets in full view of us and we can't do a thing!’
  • pick someone/something to pieces (or apart)

    • Criticize someone or something severely and in detail.

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

    • Restore one's life or a situation to a more normal state 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.’
      • ‘Thousands of hours of consular time are spent picking up the pieces after easily avoidable accidents.’
      • ‘Many women are forced into this situation and I see their lives and I help them pick up the pieces.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Why would someone else not have picked up the pieces in that situation?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What happens when a people have been ‘saved'. Who picks up the pieces?’
      • ‘His latest post will, in many ways, be about picking up the pieces to restore public confidence in social services.’
      • ‘With mother hospitalised through the shock, Zoe is left to pick up the pieces.’
  • pick up the threads

    • Resume something that has been interrupted.

      • ‘You will, with the help of your parents, pick up the threads when you are released.’
      • ‘We will pick up the threads of things that were done well in the last government.’
      • ‘Despite destroyed homes and broken lives, the women have picked up the threads of their trade.’
      • ‘You have to be able to remember where you were so you can pick up the threads and continue after an interruption.’
      • ‘Physically battered with no support, she picked up the threads of her life, working as a teacher in a private school.’
      • ‘It was two years before she began to pick up the threads of her life.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘How do you pick up the threads of an old life, when you know in your heart, it will never be the same again.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • pick someone/something off

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

      • ‘John squinted at the rusty cans, deciding which one to shoot first, and picked them off one by one.’
      • ‘At the peak of the insurrection, the defenders ran out of tear gas, and snipers began attempts to pick them off.’
      • ‘The flames of war burned brighter than ever within this divided family as one by one the members were picked off.’
      • ‘The snipers would pick you off but they are afraid to hit the little girl you are hiding in front of you.’
      • ‘As many civilians tried to leave the city, they were picked off by snipers.’
      • ‘The enemies are kind enough to walk one behind another in a straight line, making it easy to pick them off with sniper rifles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      shoot, shoot down, gun down, fire at, hit, put a bullet in
      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.’
        • ‘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!’
        • ‘His first pass of the game was picked off by Atlanta on Sunday, giving the Falcons momentum.’
        • ‘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.

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

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

      ‘Lester picked out two familiar voices’
      • ‘But the selective pointillism that picks it out identifies an essential pre-requisite for effective political action.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘But an eyewitness to the attack picked him out after a video identification procedure.’
      • ‘‘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.’’
      • ‘Now they are checking identity cards, bags and can pick people out for interrogation.’
      • ‘In November, the victim picked the robber out of a video identification parade.’
      • ‘I heard his name, but I'd never be able to pick him out of a crowd.’
      • ‘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.’
        • ‘"The light picked her out dramatically from the blurry dark background," he writes.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The powerful beans of light picked her out against the black, wet side of the cliff.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘A dim light picked her out, revealing a very female figure clad in a sort of ribbon-robe and eye-mask.’
        • ‘It was weak at such a distance, but strong enough that its light picked them out. Gunfire followed immediately.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
      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’
        • ‘Only the shields are picked out with carefully selected colours.’
        • ‘The basic color is a dark blue, the incised patterns being picked out in red, white, green, and yellow.’
        • ‘The ornate plasterwork ceiling had lines and flowers picked out in gold leaf and deep red.’
        • ‘The elaborate metalwork of the handsome old bridges spanning the river is picked out in brilliant colours.’
        • ‘The fuel tank was painted the same light blue as the wings with the retaining straps picked out in red to match the chassis.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘His watch was large and methodical, and on the outer case two hearts were picked out in diamonds from the dark solid gold.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘An MG badge was cast in each cam cover at the front, with the letters and the octagon picked out in red.’
  • pick something over (or pick through)

    • Examine or sort through a number of items carefully.

      ‘they picked through the charred remains of their home’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Such problems have been picked over regularly by all and sundry, including this paper.’
      • ‘Once the anorak-wearing fraternity have picked it over for factual errors, the debate will start over who has been left out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Of course, this was an era before counselling, before lawyers picked over the details of disaster.’
      • ‘Papers were scattered over its surface as if they had been picked over to find a single piece of information.’
      • ‘Usually the high and low end of size range will only be available because the merchandise is picked over.’
      • ‘There it is picked over for anything reusable and the remains incinerated.’
      • ‘Following their return to the apartment, they had picked over the details of the attack, but succeeded in merely unravelling things further.’
  • pick up

    • 1Become better; improve.

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

    • Stand up again after a fall.

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

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

      • ‘I tell you what, you can pick me up from the train station at about half past six, OK?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But what's to stop her from just picking us up at the hotel?’
      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.’
        • ‘After about an hour we were picked up by another boat and taken to shore.’
        • ‘As most of the hotels are on the waterfront, the boats will pick you up from the jetty behind yours and drop you back.’
        • ‘The regular train came along, stopped, picked her up and off she went.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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 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.
        • ‘One day the police pick him up and an inspector interviews him; he is released for lack of evidence.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Although he had been picked up by the police on a routine check, he was not ill-treated by them.’
        • ‘She called the police, who promptly picked him up.’
        • ‘Two weeks ago, Alex was picked up and arrested for assault and prostitution.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Robert and Brendan were picked up by a passing police patrol car.’
        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.
        • ‘He was with the woman who had picked him up at the train station, a Colombian poet.’
        • ‘I want you to stop picking me up for practice or bothering me in the halls.’
        • ‘I ran into him years later at a senior class car wash when I was eighteen 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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘If I'm in drag, and he picks me up at a gay bar, is it a queer relationship?’
        • ‘I ran into him at a club in my early 20s, and he tried to pick me up.’
        • ‘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.’
        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’
      • ‘When she came to pick up her things I made her some lunch and we had a little chat.’
      • ‘His brother picked it up and delivered it to him within moments.’
      • ‘Once you have obtained your ticket, your luggage will be picked up shortly.’
      • ‘But one day when I came to pick up my things they weren't there. There was nothing there, no sign of them anywhere.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But by the time they went to pick up the suitcase, it could not be found.’
      • ‘I was emailed to pick it up from another building.’
      • ‘I wish I could have personally met you when I came to pick up the suitcase on Tuesday.’
      • ‘‘They told me to take the bag home and they informed Royal Mail, who came and picked it up,’ she said.’
      • ‘Anyway, they came to pick up her things that were stored in the basement this summer.’
      • ‘Then her father came to pick up her things - her clothes, tennis shoes, a bottle of mineral water.’
      • ‘I'm afraid she doesn't work here anymore, just this morning she came to pick up her things.’
      • ‘He would have had to hire a private contractor to come pick that stuff up.’
      • ‘He just came to pick up his things - and to give Brooke back his wedding ring!’
      • ‘Whilst we sat waiting for our food to arrive, a steady stream of customers came to pick up take-away orders.’
      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.’
        • ‘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."’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The bills were picked up by some of the biggest names in the business world.’
        • ‘In which event, any medical bills will be picked up by the taxpayer, not by the company.’
        • ‘The rest of the bill is picked up by private insurance companies who decide what they'll pay in their corporate boardrooms.’
        • ‘Who picked up the tab for his childhood immunisations and his education?’
        • ‘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.’
      2. 1.2North American Tidy a room or building.
        • ‘Every day someone made up the beds and picked up the room while we were out.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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’
      • ‘He picked it up quickly, learning by himself because he thought it was fun.’
      • ‘It's the only way to learn and it's amazing how quickly you can pick it up.’
      • ‘Vic had learned to drive at fourteen, from his old man, and had picked it up as easily as fishes learn to swim.’
      • ‘Coming from a keyboard, having learned to read, once I picked it up and learned how to blow it, the music came quicker.’
      • ‘They also learn very quickly and easily pick things up.’
      • ‘He has certainly picked things up quicker than I imagined.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I started to learn Thai, I just seem to pick it up and now can speak it pretty well.’
      • ‘He picked it up quickly - watched a lot of TV and learnt to read English.’
      • ‘Posters around the village give details of the events and information where competition forms can be picked up.’
      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, acquire a knowledge of, 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.
        • ‘Previously worn and dirty clothes contain the same foul odour producing bacteria and you will pick the infection up again within seconds of contact.’
        • ‘Once chlamydia has been successfully treated, it won't come back unless a new infection is picked up.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Meningococcal meningitis vaccines is also required by the authorities as these infections can be picked up from fellow travellers (carriers).’
        • ‘Many new cases are picked up by men sleeping with infected prostitutes in places like Thailand, where the virus is rife.’
        • ‘But she is very susceptible to infections and if she were to pick something up then it could be fatal.’
        • ‘They in turn will multiply the infection and the later lambs to pick it up will become very badly infected.’
        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.

      • ‘Of the 18 access points whose signals were picked up, 13 were sending unencrypted messages.’
      • ‘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 computer and turned into detailed pictures.’
      • ‘The reflected sound waves are picked up by the crystal element and transformed back into electric signals.’
      • ‘It amplifies them, and sends them out, just like a radio, and the receiver picks them up in the other person ear.’
      • ‘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 air force forced a light plane to land on Saturday after an emergency signal was picked up indicating the aircraft had been hijacked.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These signals are picked up by a handheld receiver.’
      receive, detect, get, hear
      View synonyms
      1. 3.1Become aware of or sensitive to something.
        ‘she is very quick to pick up emotional atmospheres’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Babies and toddlers do pick up on stress in the home and often act out what they are unable to put into words.’
        • ‘She's pretty sensitive at picking these things up.’
        • ‘Children pick up on stress so if you're unhappy, they will be too.’
        • ‘A lot of infections can be picked up very early.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The problems were picked up when an infection control nurse, who started work with the PCT this spring, examined procedures at the surgery.’
      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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘You can pick the road up in Saunces, at the top of town next to Viares Square, home of the Town Hall.’
    • 4Resume something.

      ‘they picked up their friendship without the slightest difficulty’
      • ‘They picked up their relationship almost from where they'd left off, but it wasn't the same.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I didn't get a chance to finish it but I think I'll pick it up soon.’
      • ‘The two young men were acquainted with each other and picked up their friendship again Sunday.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They laughed about their shared affection for Martinis and picked up their friendship where they'd left off.’
      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’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘I am appalled this issue was not picked up on in the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘A lot of the Cultural Commission's recommendations have been picked up and used.’
        • ‘Someone here other than us has finally picked this story up.’
        • ‘He picked up on a story that had been on ABC News two days earlier.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘I think it's interesting what traditions are picked up on and what countries are referenced in that.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘But my sister made a very moving speech and picked it up on my behalf.’
        • ‘He picked up his remark, replying "Yes, taking care of eight children is a man sized job."’
        • ‘The press picked up his remark and on the front page of the newspaper the next day, I was depicted in a cartoon.’
        • ‘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.’
      2. 4.2(of an object or color) attractively accentuate the color of something else by being of a similar shade.
        • ‘The area rug picks up the blues in the pre-existing furniture while introducing a range of browns into the mix.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The landscape picks up the blues, the green-brown, and the grey-browns of the foreground.’
        • ‘It is framed in natural wood, which picks up the browns of the bureau on which the cup and letter rest.’
        • ‘This will provide a nice grassy feeling underfoot, and you can easily pick this color up in throw pillows or other accents.’
        • ‘The room is carpeted with a loop pile in a medium toned brown that picks up the browns in the fireplace travertine.’
  • pick up after

    • Tidy up things left strewn around by (someone).

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

Origin

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’.

Pronunciation

pick

/pɪk//pik/

Main definitions of pick in English

: pick1pick2

pick2

noun

  • 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 he learnt to recognise, simply from looking at a dried patch of mud, whether it was worth breaking its crust with his pick.’
    • ‘But when he came back from lunch break, his pick had been stolen.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Every one scattered and began hastily pounding on the rock walls with their picks.’
    • ‘They worked with picks, breaking up the soil which was then passed through a riddle to recover artefacts.’
    • ‘She said it was painful that as a woman she had had to work so hard with a pick.’
    • ‘The newer combination entrenching tool added a pick, which helped break up hard soil.’
    • ‘Men threw picks, rocks and all sorts of things at the guards.’
    • ‘The ice at this stage had fused into one large mass and had to be broken with a pick before it could be used.’
    • ‘Soon we encountered rocks and went back to get picks.’
    • ‘He pulled up on his ice tools, their picks precariously dug into soft snow.’
    • ‘Kate slammed her pick into the rock wall of the quarry.’
    • ‘The head is welded directly to the shaft, so if the pick breaks, the tool is ruined.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their tools were jacks, picks, crowbars, wheelbarrows and handcarts.’
    • ‘There were picks, shovels, knives, swords and axes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Even as she swung the pick into the rock, he could see how difficult it was for her.’
    • ‘The standard tools of the navvies were picks, shovels and a wheelbarrow.’
  • 2An instrument for picking.

    ‘an ebony hair pick’
    • ‘The woman dressed in the loose, mint colored smock was carefully using a pick to arrange the hair of the woman in her chair.’
    • ‘You even carry a hair pick in the back pocket of your excruciatingly tight black jeans - just in case it gets a little windy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Tousle the hair with a styling pick before finishing with a holding spray.’
    • ‘They will also require tools to unsnarl their hair; a pick and a vented hair brush work very well.’
    1. 2.1informal A plectrum.
      ‘a pink guitar pick’
      • ‘I was leaning against the wall, mindlessly strumming my guitar, my fingers clutching a bright green pick, my hair falling into my eyes.’
      • ‘He threw a guitar pick at Connor who caught it after 2 attempts.’
      • ‘I grabbed my guitar pick in my hand and started to strum on the chords.’
      • ‘She reached into her pocket, and pulled out a thick black cord with a green guitar pick attached to it.’
      • ‘She became aware of the guitar pick in her pocket once again, then pushed thoughts of it out of her mind.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Come in,’ Jason said as he strummed at his electric guitar with a well-worn pick.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With a shrug he got out his pick, shifted the guitar in his lap, and played the notes on the stanzas.’
      • ‘He pushed past the boys that had been talking about getting his guitar pick and swept me up in his arms.’
      • ‘Pat threw his drumsticks into the crowd, while Jay threw his guitar pick.’
      • ‘He had a guitar pick in his mouth and had his facial hair trimmed into a soul patch.’
      • ‘Jackie smiled at the freshman, holding a guitar in one hand, music in the other, and a guitar pick in between her teeth.’
      • ‘Once they found their bags, they stuffed them with everything from clothes and toiletries to spare picks and drumsticks.’
      • ‘He picks up a handful of guitar picks and heads for the checkout.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was mindblowingly loud when they started attacking the strings with picks, each guitar hooked up to an amp.’
      • ‘Laura patted her pockets, finally coming up with her guitar pick and one of Carrie's colored pencils.’
      • ‘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.’

Origin

Middle English: variant of pike.

Pronunciation

pick

/pik//pɪk/