General English

  • noun a large fish which lives in rivers and lakes


  • A large (up to 4 kg commercially but can be 20 kg) freshwater fish of the genus Esox, with a long pointed nose, greenish yellow back and lighter underside found in temperate waters of the northern hemisphere. The flesh is lean, white and dry with an excellent flavour but very bony. Usually soaked before cooking in any way.


  • noun a diving or gymnastic position in which the body is bent at the hips with the head tucked under and the hands touching the toes or behind the knees

Origin & History of “pike”

English has two pikes now in common usage, which are probably ultimately the same word. Pike ‘spear’ (OE) goes back to an Old English pīc ‘pointed object’, which is closely related to English peak and pick ‘sharp implement’. It had various specific applications in Old and middle English, now long defunct, including ‘pickaxe’, ‘spike’, ‘thorn’, ‘point of a shoe’, and ‘pitchfork’ (and pitchfork (13th c.) itself was originally pickfork, a fork with ‘sharp points’; its current form, which emerged in the 16th century, is due to the association with ‘pitching’ or tossing hay on to a cart). But the sense ‘weapon consisting of a long pole with a spike on top’ did not appear until the 16th century, partly inspired by the related Old French pique ‘pike’.

Pike the fish (14th c.) was probably also named with the descendant of Old English pīc, in allusion to its long pointed jaws (a similar inspiration can be seen in French brochet ‘pike’, a derivative of broche ‘spit’).