Definition of neck in English:

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Pronunciation: /nek/


1The part of a person’s or animal’s body connecting the head to the rest of the body: she is wearing a silk scarf around her neck [as modifier]: the neck muscles
More example sentences
  • I grabbed the bars again, and craned my stiff neck to look out as far as I could.
  • She was breathing heavily and rubbing her sore neck with one hand.
  • She stretched her long, graceful neck out to me and I drew back a little.
technical cervix
archaic scrag
1.1The part of a shirt, dress, or other garment that is around or close to the neck: her dress had three buttons at the neck undone a polo neck
More example sentences
  • I pulled the neck of my gown close about me and asked: ‘You guys sure you want to be out in this?’
  • He caught hold of the neck of the offending garment and ripped it clean to the hem.
  • Putting the logo on the sleeve or the neck is a popular, fresh approach that especially suits camp shirts.
1.2Meat from an animal’s neck: neck of lamb made an excellent stew
More example sentences
  • For beef, good casserole cuts are shin, brisket, neck, topside, thick flank or shoulder.
  • Richard freeze-dried the head and neck and saved the meat for venison patties.
  • TODAY IS St Patrick's Day and one thing you can be sure of in Ireland is a good Irish stew, made with lamb neck, onions and potatoes.
1.3A person’s neck regarded as bearing a burden of responsibility or guilt for something: he’ll be stuck with a loan around his neck
More example sentences
  • Who wants a heavy burden that hangs around your neck for years like a dead raccoon?
  • And it's real, and it's out there, and Gore just happens to have the anchor around his neck.
  • You've been nothing but a ball and chain of heartache and hurt hanging around my neck for too many Godforsaken years.
2A narrow part of something, resembling a neck in shape or position.
Example sentences
  • There was blossom on the trees, birds were singing and a stork was nesting in the neck of a rusting water tower on an abandoned farm.
2.1The part of a bottle or other container near the mouth.
Example sentences
  • Instead, she fitted a funnel attachment to the neck of the red bottle.
  • She said Gavin, then 17, had been seen waving a bottle by its neck.
  • He told the court how the man stared aggressively at him before walking over holding an empty bottle by the neck.
2.2A narrow piece of terrain or sea, such as an isthmus, channel, or pass.
Example sentences
  • After an hour's steaming they came to a channel between two narrow necks of land through which the tide rushed with the frenzy of the Severn Bore.
  • A narrow neck of land at the southeast corner of the peninsula connects it with the adjacent upland.
  • To divert Turkish attention, the Royal Naval Division would make a feint attack at Bulair, at the narrow neck of the peninsula.
2.3 Anatomy A narrow part near one end of an organ such as the uterus.
Example sentences
  • The narrow neck of the uterus is called the cervix.
  • However, results may be limited, because the bladder neck and median prostate lobe cannot be treated.
  • A common example of this is the cervical smear test, which is a biopsy of the cells around a woman's cervix, the neck of the womb.
2.4The part of a violin, guitar, or other similar instrument that bears the fingerboard.
Example sentences
  • A European bowed string instrument with a neck and resonator carved from a single piece of wood.
  • D.J. steepled his fingers against the neck of his guitar, and then bent them over the chords.
  • I ran my fingers down the neck of the guitar, relishing how smooth and polished it felt.
2.5 Architecture another term for necking.
2.6 (often volcanic neck) Geology A column of solidified lava or igneous rock formed in a volcanic vent, especially when exposed by erosion.
Example sentences
  • The western range, called the Black Mountains, is a rugged terrain with numerous volcanic necks and lava flows.
  • Climbers had been daunted by this 1,700-foot volcanic neck for years; at least one had died trying to reach the top.
  • Over here is Belougery Spire, OK, and that's an old volcanic neck.
2.7 Botany A narrow supporting part in a plant, especially the terminal part of the fruiting body in a fern, bryophyte, or fungus.
Example sentences
  • Earlier works were focused only on formation of coated buds connected to the initial membrane by narrow membrane necks.
  • Stem growth should also be absent and the neck and base of the bulb should be firm and rot free.
3The length of a horse’s head and neck as a measure of its lead in a race: the colt won the 122nd running of the Midsummer Derby by a neck
More example sentences
  • Her only loss was a second-place finish by a neck in an allowance race on May 9 at Lyon-Parilly.
  • Bandari took to the front with four furlongs to go but he was pressured all the way to the finish by a group of five other horses before eventually winning by a head and a neck.
  • Kicking King edged out Monkerhostin by a neck on Monday to win the King George VI Chase at Sandown.


1 [no object] informal (Of two people) kiss and caress amorously: we started necking on the sofa
More example sentences
  • As a big fan myself, I was glad to see so many folks just can't get enough kissing, necking, smooching, or whatever you like to call the delicious union of lips, tongues and mouths.
  • I fondly recall my early sexual experiences, where discovery, anticipation, and mystery were such a big part of the excitement, and you spent hours just necking before even thinking of heading south - if you even dared.
  • I was speechless, however, when I found that the pair who had been observed necking in the farthest corner of the room about an hour ago remained in the same position, totally oblivious to the happenings around them.
kiss, caress, pet
informal smooch, make out, canoodle
informal,, dated spoon
2 [no object] Form a narrowed part at a particular point when subjected to tension: the nylon filament necks down to a fraction of its original diameter
More example sentences
  • Because an appreciable fraction of the plastic deformation will be concentrated in the necked region of the tension specimen, the value of e f will depend on the gage length L 0 over which the measurement was taken.
  • He thinks that Shimano's pin, by necking down, allows the hole to constrict again after being stretched by the flared leading tip, while his damages the hole less with its smoother, gapless transition from leading tip to pin.
3 [with object] British informal Swallow (something, especially a drink): after necking some beers, we left the bar
More example sentences
  • Mark and Will saw me necking my drink in an effort to escape, and saved me by calling me over to tell me something ‘very important’.
  • It was Ursula down in reception, ready for our joint leaving do, so I necked the drink and carted off my stuff, taking a last look around the office that has been a second home for the last six years.
  • She then returned alone into the pub, necked her drink, stared at everyone in threatening manner and left to puzzled looks all round.



break one's neck

1Dislocate or seriously damage a vertebra or the spinal cord in one’s neck.
Example sentences
  • You could fall off the cliff and break your neck!
  • You break her heart again, I'll break your neck, prince or not.
  • Before her mother could caution her to ‘get down from there before you break your neck,’ I would leap into action and whisper, ‘Go for it, I'll spot you!’
2 (break one's neck to do something) informal Exert oneself to the utmost to achieve something.
Example sentences
  • But tonight showed the contrast between a guy who's finished his agenda and a guy who's breaking his neck to implement a new agenda.
  • I support this, although I wouldn't break my neck to fight for it.
  • You do not seem to enjoy being in their company, even though Natasha breaks her neck to make you comfortable.

get (or catch) it in the neck

informal Be severely criticized or punished.
Example sentences
  • I do still fail to see why Liverpool got it in the neck in your article as a result.
  • So you see the great guys getting it in the neck and you say, well, why should I be any different?
  • Salmon farmers have a hard enough time dealing with anti-farm protesters, regulations and international competition without getting it in the neck from their clients as well.

neck and neck

Pronunciation: /ˌnek (ə)n ˈnek/
Even in a race, competition, or comparison: we have six contestants who are neck and neck
More example sentences
  • It happened just as a Gold Cup was reaching its closing stages, with about five horses racing neck and neck.
  • In this instance, you have the unsavory spectacle of blatant cynicism racing neck and neck with latent xenophobia.
  • Helian jumped up right behind her, and soon they were racing neck and neck.
level, equal, tied, side by side, close
informal even-steven

neck of the woods

informal A particular area or locality: imagine seeing her in this neck of the woods
More example sentences
  • On weekends we'd take turns cruising the various town and villages in our neck of the woods.
  • Naturally, I was delighted to hear he'd be making a pit stop in my neck of the woods on his way back from Northern Ireland.
  • City slicker smart alecs don't go down well in this neck of the woods - a constituency comprising a huge swathe of rural Ulster.

save someone's neck

see save1.

up to one's neck in

informal Heavily burdened by or busily involved in: they were up to their necks in debt I’m up to my neck in rearranging the tournament
More example sentences
  • Before you know it, you're up to your neck in zombies.
  • Because they are up to their neck in it, the police and the politicians turn a blind eye.
  • They were up to their neck in corrupt practice and that was the way that the thing went.



Pronunciation: /nekt/
[in combination]: an open-necked shirt




Example sentences
  • When you add up the rest of the bits, an average bald, plucked, neckless, gutless chicken weighs about 4 pounds.
  • With respect to the last criteria, I have to note that on entering, I noticed some neckless fat men with gold chains accompanied by very young, skinny pouting girls.
  • A red velvet curtain serves as a door and is patrolled by a neckless bodybuilder in a tuxedo.


Old English hnecca 'back of the neck', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch nek 'neck' and German Nacken 'nape'.

  • In Old English the word neck (then spelled hnecca) was quite rare, and actually referred to the back of the neck. Our idea of ‘neck’ was expressed by the words halse and swire , which today survive only as Scottish and northern English dialect terms. A number of common phrases involve necks. Neck and neck, meaning ‘level in a race or contest’ dates back to 1672: it refers to two horses struggling to establish the lead in a race. Horses have been winning races by a neck since at least 1791. The same neck of the woods, ‘the same small area or community’, derives from neck used in the sense ‘narrow strip of woodland’, which is recorded from the mid 17th century, originally in the USA. People have used necking to mean ‘kissing and cuddling’ since the early 19th century, presumably from the idea of clasping someone affectionately around the neck. See also save

Words that rhyme with neck

beck, bedeck, check, cheque, Chiang Kai-shek, crosscheck, Czech, deck, dreck, exec, fleck, heck, hitech, keck, lek, peck, Québec, rec, reck, sec, sneck, spec, speck, spot-check, tec, tech, Toulouse-Lautrec, trek, wreck

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: neck

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