peck 1 (pĕk)
v. pecked, peck·ing, pecks
1. To strike with the beak or a pointed instrument.
2. To make (a hole, for example) by striking repeatedly with the beak or a pointed instrument.
3. To grasp and pick up with the beak: The bird pecked insects from the log.
4. Informal To kiss briefly and casually.
1. To make strokes with the beak or a pointed instrument.
2. To eat in small sparing bits; nibble: He pecked at his dinner.
3. To make repeated criticisms; carp: pecked at the kitchen staff.
a. A stroke or light blow with the beak or a pointed instrument.
b. A mark or hole made by such a stroke.
2. Informal A light quick kiss.
[Middle English pecken, probably variant of piken, to peck (perhaps influenced by Middle Low German pekken); see PICK1.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.