There are 2 main definitions of nick in English:

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nick1

Syllabification: nick

noun

1A small cut or notch.
Example sentences
  • Like the old rifles, the rear sight bears a tiny nick of a sighting notch.
  • There are few film defects such as nicks or blemishes to be seen.
  • The picture suffers from numerous source defects, including many nicks and scratches, a generally dirty appearance, and discolored film elements.
Synonyms
cut, scratch, incision, notch, chip, gouge, gash;
dent, indentation
2 (the nick) British informal Prison.
Example sentences
  • Letters Bernie Ebbers shed a tear or two as he was sentenced to 25 years in the nick for his part in the financial disaster that was WorldCom.
  • And I'm not sure my friend realised that councils have many other ways of getting their council tax and some of them can have far-reaching effects that go beyond a short spell in the nick.
  • We'll go and put a picket round the 'ville while they're in the nick.
2.1A police station.
Example sentences
  • Always in these movies the defendant looks cooked, until a last minute witness shows up at the nick, spurred on by ingenious detective work.
  • He ought to be retiring to the nick after all the dodgy warrants he signed for Inspector Fiend.
  • I'm Sergeant Peter Lees and this is PC Lee Peters from Westing nick.
3The junction between the floor and sidewalls in a court for playing tennis or squash.
Example sentences
  • The second semi final was a played at a furious pace with Victor Berg setting the tone of the game hitting the return of serve into the nick to win the first point.
  • Easdon would step in and punish with his volley, either for depth or occasionally guided crosscourt into the nick.
  • Then, almost in echo of Beachill's earlier performance, he hit a forehand pickup from the nick into the tin.

verb

[with object] Back to top  
1Make a nick or nicks in: he had nicked himself while shaving
More example sentences
  • Does that mean that Gillette will have to start making blunter razor blades so they will not be culpable if we nick ourselves shaving?
  • And that was ok too, because, who didn't, every once in a while, nick themselves shaving?
  • The fake bills might even be nicked or slightly torn.
Synonyms
cut, scratch, incise, gouge, gash, score
2 (nick someone for) North American informal Cheat someone of (something, typically a sum of money): he nicked me for fifteen hundred dollars
More example sentences
  • They nicked me for eight grand for a fourteen-month course.
  • They nicked me for about $10 when they cashed my check two days before the due date and didn't post it till two days after.
3British informal Steal: he’d had his car nicked by joyriders
More example sentences
  • We first see the hero, Jamie, as a violent 18-year-old Gravesend thug who, having nicked a car, runs off with 15-year-old Lynsey.
  • Rather than nicking your car stereo, the thief of 2020 will be after your whole digital persona.
  • A top Navy Officer was hauled before a court martial yesterday after a laptop packed with military secrets was nicked from his car.
3.1Arrest or apprehend (someone): I got nicked for burglary
More example sentences
  • Surely the notoriously humourless Singapore police would nick us all, cane us publicly - our bare, welted bottoms would be splattered all over the Sun…
  • So clearly, even under the grotesquely inadequate laws of 2003, the police do not seem to have been significantly impeded in their ability to spot-check ID and nick people.
  • I would have nicked him too but there was no room in the police car.

Origin

late Middle English: of unknown origin.

More
  • Nick has a great many meanings that are apparently unrelated. The first, most basic meaning is ‘make a nick or notch in’, from which developed various senses to do with striking something or hitting a target. The meaning ‘to apprehend, take into custody’, as in ‘You're nicked!’, is first found in the play The Prophetesse ( 1640) by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger: ‘We must be sometimes witty, to nick a knave.’ The sense ‘to steal’ is more recent, dating from the 1820s.

    The noun nick first meant ‘notch, cut, or groove’; the sense ‘condition’ (‘you've kept the car in good nick’) seems to come from Worcestershire and Gloucestershire dialect, and was first recorded at the end of the 19th century. In the nick of time developed from an old meaning ‘the precise or critical time or moment’, and was in the mid 16th century simply in the nick or the very nick. The slang sense ‘prison’ or ‘police station’ was originally Australian, with the first written evidence in the Sydney Slang Dictionary of 1882. Old Nick, a name for the devil, is probably a shortening of the man's name Nicholas. One theory as to why this familiar name was adopted links it with the Italian politician and philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli ( see Machiavellian), although he is reputed to have been unscrupulous and scheming rather than downright evil. Another is that it is short for Iniquity ( see equal), which was the name for the character symbolizing Vice in old morality plays—Old Iniquity is found as a name for the devil in the 19th century. Other names for the devil in parts of Britain are Old Harry, Old Horny, Old Ned, and Old Scratch, so maybe there is no particular reason why Nick should have been chosen.

Phrases

in the nick of time

1
Only just in time.
Example sentences
  • Conveniently, there were other people around, and I was rescued in the nick of time.
  • Riding bicycles, Hank's agents rescue Arthur and Hank in the nick of time.
  • The upshot is that the error was fixed, in the nick of time.
Synonyms
just in time, not a moment too soon, at the critical moment, at the last second
informal at the buzzer, just under the wire

Words that rhyme with nick

artic, brick, chick, click, crick, dick, flick, hand-pick, hic, hick, kick, lick, mick, miskick, pic, pick, prick, quick, rick, shtick, sic, sick, slick, snick, spic, stick, thick, tic, tick, trick, Vic, wick

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There are 2 main definitions of nick in English:

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nick2

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Entry from British & World English dictionary

verb

[no object, with adverbial of direction] Australian /NZ informal
1Go quickly or surreptitiously: they nicked across the road
1.1 (nick off) Depart; go away: I got up and got dressed and nicked off

Origin

late 19th century: probably a figurative use of nick1 in the sense 'to steal'.

More
  • Nick has a great many meanings that are apparently unrelated. The first, most basic meaning is ‘make a nick or notch in’, from which developed various senses to do with striking something or hitting a target. The meaning ‘to apprehend, take into custody’, as in ‘You're nicked!’, is first found in the play The Prophetesse ( 1640) by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger: ‘We must be sometimes witty, to nick a knave.’ The sense ‘to steal’ is more recent, dating from the 1820s.

    The noun nick first meant ‘notch, cut, or groove’; the sense ‘condition’ (‘you've kept the car in good nick’) seems to come from Worcestershire and Gloucestershire dialect, and was first recorded at the end of the 19th century. In the nick of time developed from an old meaning ‘the precise or critical time or moment’, and was in the mid 16th century simply in the nick or the very nick. The slang sense ‘prison’ or ‘police station’ was originally Australian, with the first written evidence in the Sydney Slang Dictionary of 1882. Old Nick, a name for the devil, is probably a shortening of the man's name Nicholas. One theory as to why this familiar name was adopted links it with the Italian politician and philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli ( see Machiavellian), although he is reputed to have been unscrupulous and scheming rather than downright evil. Another is that it is short for Iniquity ( see equal), which was the name for the character symbolizing Vice in old morality plays—Old Iniquity is found as a name for the devil in the 19th century. Other names for the devil in parts of Britain are Old Harry, Old Horny, Old Ned, and Old Scratch, so maybe there is no particular reason why Nick should have been chosen.

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