neck

Definitions

General English

Food

  • noun this part of an animal eaten as food

Medical

  • noun the part of the body which joins the head to the body
  • noun a narrow part of a bone or organ

Slang

  • noun cheek, impudence, daring, chutzpah. This sense of the word is at least 100 years old, originating in rustic northern English speech. It survives principally in the form brass neck, a synonym for ‘bare-faced cheek’.
  • verb to kiss, embrace and pet. An American euphemism dating from the early years of the 20th century.
  • verb to drink, ingest. The raffish verb, probably a back-formation from the drinkers’ catchphrase-injunction ‘Get this down your neck!’, became fashionable from the early 1990s. It was adopted by members of the acid house and rave subcultures who referred to ‘necking E’s’ (swallowing tablets of ecstasy).

Sports

  • noun a part of the body that connects the head to the shoulders

Origin & History of “neck”

Neck originally meant only the ‘back or nape of the neck’ (that is what its modern German relative nacken denotes, and in Old English times the usual word for ‘neck’ in general was heals). It seems to go back to a prehistoric Indo-European base *knok- signifying ‘high point, ridge’, which also produced Irish cnoc ‘hill’. The use of the verb neck for ‘kiss and cuddle’ dates back at least to the early 19th century.
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