verb (used with object)

  1. to strike or indent with the beak, as a bird does, or with some pointed instrument, especially with quick, repeated movements.
  2. to make (a hole, puncture, etc.) by such strokes; pierce.
  3. to take (food) bit by bit, with or as with the beak.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make strokes with the beak or a pointed instrument.


  1. a quick stroke, as in pecking.
  2. a hole or mark made by or as by pecking.
  3. a quick, almost impersonal kiss: a peck on the cheek.
  4. (in timber) incipient decay from fungi, occurring in isolated spots.
  5. pecks. Also peck·ings. Slang. food.

Verb Phrases

  1. peck at,
    1. to nibble indifferently or unenthusiastically at (food).
    2. to nag or carp at: Stop pecking at me, I’m doing the best I can.


  1. a unit of dry measure equal to 8 quarts or one quarter of a bushel
  2. a container used for measuring this quantity
  3. a large quantity or number


  1. (when intr, sometimes foll by at) to strike with the beak or with a pointed instrument
  2. (tr sometimes foll by out) to dig (a hole) by pecking
  3. (tr) (of birds) to pick up (corn, worms, etc) by pecking
  4. (intr often foll by at) to nibble or pick (at one’s food)
  5. informal to kiss (a person) quickly and lightly
  6. (intr foll by at) to nag


  1. a quick light blow, esp from a bird’s beak
  2. a mark made by such a blow
  3. informal a quick light kiss


  1. Gregory. 1916–2003, US film actor; his films include Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Gunfighter (1950), The Big Country (1958), To Kill a Mockingbird (1963), The Omen (1976), and Other People’s Money (1991)

v.c.1300, possibly a variant of picken (see pick (v.)), or in part from Middle Low German pekken “to peck with the beak.” Related: Pecked; pecking. n.1late 13c., “dry measure of one-quarter bushel,” of unknown origin; perhaps connected with Old French pek, picot (13c.), also of unknown origin (Barnhart says these were borrowed from English). Chiefly of oats for horses; original sense may be “allowance” rather than a fixed measure, thus perhaps from peck (v.). n.2“act of pecking,” 1610s, from peck (v.). It is attested earlier in thieves’ slang (1560s) with a sense of “food, grub.”

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