Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Then he picks up another plate, looks at it, and laughs again.

It is the people she picks up on her way home that are so uncertain.

Th' ol' woman doesn't read, but she picks up what's goin' on.

He picks up a living as he can, but everybody looks at him with suspicion.

Old Master sho' was surprised and he picks up a switch and starts at me.

Brown (as if out of curiosity, picks up the cigar and goes out slowly).

Pay him what he asks and arrange that he lies off Dunseveric and picks up Neal.

And when she picks up a marble and inquires: "Whose is this?"

She picks up from the desk and hands him the letter Sigsby had thrown there.

As it is, he picks up the package tenderly, and transports it to the smoking-car.


early 13c., picken "to peck;" c.1300, piken "to work with a pick," probably representing a fusion of Old English *pician "to prick," (implied by picung "a piercing, pricking," an 8c. gloss on Latin stigmata) with Old Norse pikka "to prick, peck," from a common Germanic root (cf. Middle Dutch picken, German picken "to pick, peck"), perhaps imitative. Influence from Middle French piquer "to prick, sting" (see pike (n.2)) also is possible, but that French word generally is not considered a source of the English word. Related: Picked; picking.

Meaning "to eat with small bites" is from 1580s. The meaning "to choose, select, pick out" emerged late 14c., from earlier meaning "to pluck with the fingers" (early 14c.). Sense of "to rob, plunder" (c.1300) weakened to a milder sense of "steal petty things" by late 14c. Of forcing locks with a pointed tool, by 1540s. Meaning "to pluck (a banjo)" is recorded from 1860. To pick a quarrel, etc. is from mid-15c.; to pick at "find fault with" is from 1670s. Pick on "single out for adverse attention" is from late 14c.; pick off "shoot one by one" is recorded from 1810; baseball sense of "to put out a runner on base" is from 1939. Also cf. pick up. To pick and choose "select carefully" is from 1660s (choose and pick is attested from c.1400).