- 1 [no object] (Of a bird) strike or bite something with its beak: two geese were pecking at some grain [with object]: vultures pecked out the calf’s eyesMore example sentences
bite, nip, strike, hit, tap, rap, jab, poke, prick
- I got quite used to tiny black Tussock birds pecking matter-of-factly at my shoes.
- Mrs Wheeler said she thought the noise made by the burglars was the bad weather or birds pecking on the roof.
- At first it was thought Pebbles had been pecked by a bird or had been fighting with another cat.
- 1.1 [with object] Make (a hole) by striking with the beak: robins are the worst culprits, pecking holes in every cherryMore example sentences
- Apparently the crow pecks a small hole in the toad to get at the liver.
- A bird with a penchant for 17 th-century Dutch art has paid the ultimate price for flying into a museum gallery and pecking a hole in a masterpiece.
- He's a prissy fellow, and he takes about 10 or 15 seconds just to peck a hole that is large enough to pull one of the kernels through.
- 1.2 (peck at) • informal (Of a person) eat (food) listlessly or daintily: don’t peck at your food, eat a whole mouthfulMore example sentences
- I was determined not to spend the rest of my life as ‘Fatty the gargantuan’ and so I just pecked at my food, ignoring my rebellious stomach, which was screaming for food like an overweight baby.
- These dishes were small and neatly packaged, and before long, I found myself pecking at my food in an appraising, sensitive way, and nibbling in tiny little bites.
- She made a pretence of pecking at her food, then excused herself and retreated to her rooms.
- 2 [with object] Kiss (someone) lightly or perfunctorily: she pecked him on the cheekMore example sentences
kiss, plant a kiss, give someone a peck• informal give someone a smacker
- Ashton pulled back from our hot kiss and pecked me once for good measure.
- I smiled back and pecked him lightly on the cheek.
- He pecked her lightly on the lips before heading toward the door.
- 3 [with object] Type (something) laboriously: Paul was pecking out letters with two fingers on his typewriterMore example sentences
- This allowed them to input small amounts of text data quickly without having to peck at a tiny keyboard with their fingers.
- Four middle-aged guys, dressed business-casual, are sitting at a long desk in an off-white room, sifting through files and pecking at laptops.
- Trading is now done rather demurely, by pecking at a keyboard.
nounBack to top
- 1A stroke or bite by a bird with its beak: the bird managed to give its attacker a sharp peckMore example sentences
- Nestlings use this beak hook in lunging pecks and bites to the backs and heads of their siblings that result in scratches, bruises, and skin lesions.
- Patience finally paid off as one hopped slowly, slowly towards me and I felt the peck of a tiny beak in my hand.
- The mother bird started to peck at me, but I dodged all the pecks and hit her beak with my mace.
- 2A light or perfunctory kiss: a fatherly peck on the cheekMore example sentences
- Lola dotes on him hand and foot, trying to rekindle his emotions, but earns only a perfunctory peck on the cheek at best.
- He gave her a light peck on the cheek and then returned to his own room.
- He was changing a light bulb and she gave him a peck on the cheek, and he was in shock.
late Middle English: of unknown origin; compare with Middle Low German pekken 'peck (with the beak)'.
- 1A measure of capacity for dry goods, equal to a quarter of a bushel (2 imperial gallons = 9.092 l, or 8 US quarts = 8.81 l).More example sentences
- America is now the last major power to retain feet and gallons and bushels and pecks.
- If you don't know your bushel from your peck take a look.
- 1.1 • archaic A large number or amount of something: a peck of dirtMore example sentences
- I have a distinct distrust of any man who smells of soap and believe we all have to eat a peck of dirt before we die, but there are limits.
- As my old Mum used to say, ‘You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die’.
- We all have to eat a peck of dirt, the saying goes, but some of us enjoy it more than others.
Middle English (used especially as a measure of oats for horses): from Anglo-Norman French pek, of unknown origin.
- (Of a horse) pitch forward or stumble as a result of striking the ground with the front rather than the flat of the hoof: her father’s horse had pecked slightly on landingMore example sentences
- However, Chilling Place pecked on landing and weakened into third, giving the Grade One race to 3-1 shot Marcel, who kept on to hold It's Just Harry by two lengths.
variant of obsolete pick 'fix (something pointed) in the ground'.