1. A long slender piece of wood, especially:
a. A branch or stem that has fallen or been cut from a tree or shrub.
b. A piece of wood, such as a tree branch, that is used for fuel, cut for lumber, or shaped for a specific purpose.
c. A wand, staff, baton, or rod.
2. Sports A long thin implement with a blade or net on the end used to propel and control a puck or ball in hockey or lacrosse.
3. A walking stick; a cane.
4. Something that is long and thin: a stick of dynamite; a stick of gum.
5. Slang A marijuana cigarette.
a. The control device of an aircraft that operates the elevators and ailerons.
b. Informal A stick shift.
7. Nautical A mast or a part of a mast.
a. A group of bombs released to fall across an enemy target in a straight row.
b. Slang A group of paratroopers exiting an aircraft in succession.
9. A timber tree.
10. Informal A piece of furniture.
11. A poke, thrust, or stab with a stick or similar object: a stick in the ribs.
12. A threatened penalty: using both a carrot and a stick to keep allies in line.
13. The condition or power of adhering: a glue with plenty of stick.
14. sticks Informal
a. A remote area; backwoods: moved to the sticks.
b. A city or town regarded as dull or unsophisticated.
15. Informal A person regarded as stiff, boring, or spiritless.
16. Obsolete A difficulty or obstacle; a delay.
v. stuck (stŭk), stick·ing, sticks
a. To pierce, puncture, or penetrate with a pointed instrument: stick a fingertip with a pin.
b. To kill by piercing: stick a pig.
a. To thrust or push (a pointed instrument) into or through another object: stuck a fork into the turkey.
b. To jab or poke (a pointed or narrow instrument) into or against: The robber stuck a pistol in my ribs.
c. To place or position by pushing or thrusting: stick candles on the cake; stick a flower through a buttonhole.
a. To fix, impale, or transfix on a pointed object: stick an olive on a toothpick.
b. To cover or decorate with objects piercing the surface: stick a map with pins.
a. To fasten into place by forcing an end or point into something: stick a tack on the wall.
b. To fasten or attach with pins, nails, or similar devices: stuck the announcement on the bulletin board.
c. To fasten or attach with an adhesive material, such as glue or tape.
5. Sports To execute (a landing or dismount) in gymnastics so that the feet do not move after they hit the ground.
6. To detain or delay: We were stuck at the airport overnight.
7. Informal To confuse, baffle, or puzzle: I started doing the math problems, but I got stuck.
8. past tense and past participle sticked (stĭkt) To prop (a plant) with sticks or brush on which to grow.
9. past tense and past participle sticked Printing To set (type) in a composing stick.
10. To cover or smear with something sticky.
11. Informal To put blame or responsibility on; burden: stuck me with the bill.
12. Slang To defraud or cheat: The dealer stuck me with shoddy merchandise.
1. To be or become fixed or embedded in place by having the point thrust in: The spear stuck in the shield.
2. To become or remain attached or in close association; cling: stick together in a crowd.
a. To remain firm, determined, or resolute: stuck to basic principles.
b. To remain loyal or faithful: stuck by her through hard times.
c. To persist or endure: a bad name that has stuck.
4. To scruple or hesitate: She sticks at nothing—no matter how difficult.
5. To become fixed, blocked, checked, or obstructed: The drawer stuck and would not open.
6. To project or protrude: hair sticking out on his head.
7. Sports To throw a jab in boxing.
stick around Informal
To remain; linger.
1. To be prominent or noticeable.
2. Informal To continue in or endure: stick out a bad situation.
To rob, especially at gunpoint.
be stuck on Informal
To be very fond of.
stick it to Slang
To treat severely or wrongfully.
stick (one's) neck out Informal
To make oneself vulnerable; take a risk.
stick to/by one's guns
To hold fast to an opinion or a set course of action.
stick to (one's) knitting Informal
To mind one's own business.
stick to (one's) ribs Informal
To be substantial or filling. Used of food.
stick up for
To defend or support.
[Middle English stikke, from Old English sticca; see steig- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.