• adjective uncomfortable, embarrassed, ashamed. This usage may derive from the phrase ‘get on one’s wick’, meaning to annoy or irritate, or from the second noun sense above.
  • adjective an abbreviation of wicked, meaning good
  • noun the penis. This sense of the word combines the candle wick as a phallic image and the London rhyming-slang phrase Hampton Wick (for prick). hampton Wick is a small community in the Southwest London suburbs, familiar to cockneys of the past hundred years as being on their route to the nearby riverside, Hampton Court or Bushy Park. Wick is rarely found alone, but rather in the phrases dip the wick or ‘get on one’s wick’.
  • noun nonsense. The standard English word (originally meaning a flammable material) is used in colloquial Irish to mean ‘rubbish’, hence this extended meaning.

Origin & History of “wick”

Wick ‘burning fibre in a candle or lamp’ has west Germanic relatives in German wieche and Dutch wiek, but its ultimate ancestry is uncertain (a connection has been suggested with Old Irish figim ‘I weave’). The wick of get on someone’s wick ‘annoy someone’, incidentally (first recorded in 1945), is probably a different word. It appears to be short for Hampton Wick, rhyming slang for ‘prick, penis’ (Hampton Wick is a district in southwest London; its wick means historically ‘village, town’, and is the same word ultimately as the -wich, -wick of English place-names).