General English

General Science

  • noun
    (written as PICK)
    a multiuser, multitasking operating system that runs on mainframe, mini or PC computers


  • verb to take ripe fruit or vegetables from plants



  • A hand tool, consisting of a steel head pointed at one or both ends and mounted on a wooden handle, for loosening and breaking up compacted soil or rock.


  • verb (of a batsman) to form a correct assessment, as the ball is released by the bowler (especially a bowler of wrist-spin), of where the ball will pitch and how it will behave after it pitches, and take appropriate action
    Citation ‘Most of the Australian batsmen have told me that they can pick his leg break and play him as an off-spinner for the rest of the time’ (Henry Blofeld, Guardian 2 January 1984)
    Citation ‘His steep bounce, coupled with the problem of picking his length, presented more problems than his turn’ (David green, Cricketer April 1983)


  • verb to take away small pieces of something with the fingers or with a tool


  • noun fibres pulled from the surface of paper by tacky ink on the printing plate


  • noun the act of choosing, or the thing, person or place chosen
  • noun a small metal tool, like a long needle, used to remove flesh from shellfish or from nutshells, or to break up ice

Origin & History of “pick”

English has two distinct words pick. The verb (15th c.), which originally meant ‘pierce’ (a sense which survives in ‘pick holes in’), appears to come via Old French piquer from a vulgar Latin *piccāre ‘prick, pierce’. Picket (17th c.), which originally meant ‘pointed stake’, is probably derived from the same source (its modern sense ‘guard’, which emerged in the 18th century, comes from the practice of soldiers tying their horses to stakes). Pique (16th c.) is a slightly later borrowing from French.

Pick ‘sharp implement’ (14th c.) (as in toothpick) is probably related to Old English pīc ‘pointed object’, source of English pike ‘spear’. It also lies behind English peak. In view of their close semantic similarity, it seems likely that the two picks share a common ancestor, which was no doubt responsible also for Old French picois ‘pickaxe’, altered in English, under the influence of axe, to pickaxe (15th c.).