1. A shallow notch, cut, or indentation on an edge or a surface: nicks in the table; razor nicks on his chin.
2. Chiefly British Slang A prison or police station.
3. Printing A groove down the side of a piece of type used to ensure that it is correctly placed.
tr.v. nicked, nick·ing, nicksIdiom:
a. To cut a nick or notch in.
b. To cut into and wound slightly: A sliver of glass nicked my hand.
2. To cut short; check: nicked an impulse to flee.
3. Slang To cheat, especially by overcharging.
4. Chiefly British Slang
a. To steal.
b. To arrest.
in the nick of time
Just at the critical moment; just in time.
[Middle English nik, possibly alteration (influenced by nokke, notch) of niche; see NICHE.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.