- to select for use or special consideration, illustration, etc, as from a group
- to distinguish (an object from its surroundings), as in painting: she picked out the woodwork in white
- to perceive or recognize (a person or thing previously obscured): we picked out his face among the crowd
- to distinguish (sense or meaning) from or as if from a mass of detail or complication
- to play (a tune) tentatively, by or as if by ear
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
- to choose or select, esp. with care:She picked the best detective on the force to head the investigation.
- to seek occasion for; provoke:to pick a fight.
- to attempt to find;
seek out:trying to pick flaws in his argument.
- to steal the contents of:to pick a pocket.
- to open (a lock) with a device other than a key, esp. for the purpose of burglary:The spy managed to pick the lock and get into her house.
- to pierce or break up (something) with a pointed instrument:to pick iron ore.
- to use a pointed instrument on (a thing), to remove particles or something stuck:After dinner he grabbed a toothpick and began to pick his teeth.
- to prepare for use by removing a covering, as feathers:to pick a fowl.
- to detach or remove piece by piece with the fingers:to pick meat from the bones.
- to pull out and gather one by one:to pick flowers.
- to pluck (the strings of a musical instrument):She picked the strings softly at first.
- to play (a stringed instrument) by plucking with the fingers:strumming and picking his guitar.
- pick apart, to criticize severely or in great detail: [~ + apart + object]picked apart his arguments one by one.[~ + object + apart]picked most of his arguments apart.
- to find fault with; nag:He kept picking at her until she exploded.
- to eat only a small amount:For days she only picked at her meals.
- to grasp at; touch;
handle:a nervous habit of picking at his jacket sleeve.
- to remove by pulling or plucking off: [~ + off + object]She picked off the feathers from the chicken.[~ + object + off]She picked the feathers off the chicken.
- to single out and shoot: [~ + off + object]picked off a duck rising from the marsh.[~ + object + off]With this rifle an assassin could pick you off at a thousand yards.
- [Baseball.]to put out (a base runner) in a pick-off play: [~ + off + object]picked off three players in one game.[~ + object + off]picked me off twice in one game.
- to tease; bother greatly;
harass:The other kids picked on her because she was poor.
- to single out;
choose:The teacher tended to pick on her often because she came to class prepared.
- to choose; select: [~ + out + object]Pick out the best tomatoes.[~ + object + out]She picked the best tomatoes out and left the rest.
- to distinguish (something) from that which surrounds: [~ + out + object]to pick out her face in a crowd.[~ + object + out]Can you pick that criminal's face out from among these photos?
- to work out (a melody) note by note; play by ear: [~ + out + object]idly picking out a tune.[~ + object + out]She picked a tune out on the piano.
- to lift or take up: [~ + up + object]to pick up a stone.[~ + object + up]He picked the stone up.
- to gather or collect, esp. systematically: [~ + up + object]Please pick up the pieces.[~ + object + up]Pick the pieces up.
- [~ + up + object] to gain or acquire:picked up nine yards on the play.
- to obtain or learn casually or as a result of occasional opportunity: [~ + up + object]I've picked up a few Japanese phrases.[~ + object + up]I was able to pick English up fairly quickly.
- to take on (casually) as a passenger: [~ + up + object]They picked up some guy hitchhiking on Interstate 40.[~ + object + up]They picked some guy up on Interstate 40.
- to arrange to collect (something), or to meet and collect (someone) as a passenger, etc.: [~ + up + object]Please pick up some milk on the way home.[~ + object + up]We'll pick you up at eight o'clock.
- to bring into the range of one's ability to receive (as on a radio), or observe, detect, etc.: [~ + up + object]to pick up Toronto on the radio.[~ + object + up]Their sonar could pick the Russian sub up.
- [~ + up + object] to accelerate; gain (speed):The car picked up speed.
- [~ + up + object] to catch or contract, as a disease:picked up a cold.
- to (cause to) make progress, improve, or recover: [no object]Business is picking up.[~ + object + up]This should pick you up: good news at last about the economy![~ + up + object]The news of the invasion picked up the morale of the prisoners.
- to become acquainted with informally or casually, often in hope of a sexual relationship: [~ + up + object]They were cruising at the bars, hoping to pick up some men.[~ + object + up]Let's try to pick those girls up.
- to resume or continue after being left off: [~ + up + object]Let's pick up the discussion at our next meeting.[~ + object + up]Can we pick this up at our next meeting?
- to take to jail; arrest: [~ + up + object]The police picked up the suspect the next day.[~ + object + up]The police picked the suspect up the day after the murder.
- [~ + up + object] to accept, as in order to pay:As we rose to leave, he picked up the check, saying, "I'll pay this time.''
- pick up on, [~ + up on + object][Informal.]to become aware of; notice:I picked up on his hostility right away.
choice:Take your pick.
- Idiomspick and choose, [no object] to be careful or particular in choosing:You won't have time to pick and choose; just grab what looks good.
pick•er, n. [countable]
pick2 /pɪk/USA pronunciation n. [countable]
- Buildinga heavy tool made of a metal head, usually curved, coming to a point at one or both ends, mounted on a wooden handle, and used for breaking up soil, rock, etc.
- Buildingany pointed tool or instrument for picking:an ice pick.
- Music and Danceplectrum.