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strike (strīk)
v. struck (strŭk), struck or strick·en (strĭkən), strik·ing, strikes
a. To hit sharply, as with a hand, fist, weapon, or implement: struck the table in anger; strikes the ball with a nine iron; struck the nail with a hammer.
b. To inflict (a blow).
2. To penetrate or pierce: was struck in the leg by a bullet.
a. To collide with or crash into: She struck the desk with her knee.
b. To cause to come into violent or forceful contact: She struck her knee against the desk.
c. To thrust (a weapon, for example) in or into someone or something: struck the sword into the dragon.
d. To damage or destroy, as by forceful contact: Lightning struck the tree.
4. To make a military attack on; assault.
5. To afflict suddenly, as with a disease or impairment: was stricken with cancer.
6. To cause to become suddenly in a certain way: struck him dead.
a. To snap at or seize (a bait).
b. To hook (a fish that has taken the bait) by a pull on the line.
8. To wound by biting. Used especially of a snake.
9. To form by stamping, printing, or punching: strike a medallion.
10. To produce or play by manipulating strings or keys: strike a B flat; strike w, t, and y on the keyboard.
11. To indicate by a percussive or chiming sound: The clock struck nine.
12. To produce as if by playing a musical instrument: The report struck a positive note in the final paragraph.
a. To produce by friction or a blow: struck fire from the flints.
b. To produce flame, light, or a spark by friction: strike a match.
14. To remove or separate suddenly, as with a blow: struck the wasp from his shoulder; struck off the diseased branch with a machete.
15. To eliminate or expunge: strike a trial witness's answer to a question as inadmissible hearsay.
a. To come upon (a mineral deposit) by effort; discover: struck gold.
b. To come to; reach or attain: finally struck the main trail.
a. To fall upon; shine on: A bright light struck her face.
b. To become audible to: An odd sound struck his ear.
18. To affect keenly or forcibly; impress: The suggestion struck her as foolish.
19. To enter the mind of: The thought struck me from out of the blue.
a. To cause (a strong emotion) to penetrate deeply: struck terror into their hearts.
b. To affect or overcome with strong emotion: She was struck with alarm at the news.
a. To make and confirm the terms of (a bargain).
b. To achieve (a balance, for example) by careful consideration.
22. To position one's body in (a pose, for example); assume.
23. Nautical
a. To haul down (a mast or sail).
b. To lower (a flag or sail) in salute or surrender.
c. To lower (cargo) into a hold.
24. To remove (theatrical properties, a set, or technical equipment) from a stage.
25. To dismantle and pack up for departure: strike camp.
26. To undertake a strike against (an employer).
a. To level or even (a measure, as of grain).
b. To smooth or shape with a strickle.
a. To send (plant roots) out or down.
b. To cause (a plant cutting) to take root.
1. To deal a blow or blows, as with the fist or a weapon; hit.
2. To aim a stroke or blow: struck at his opponent but missed.
3. To make contact suddenly or violently; collide: A car and a bus struck at the intersection.
4. To begin a military attack: The enemy struck unexpectedly.
5. Sports To score a goal: The home team struck early in the game.
6. To penetrate or pierce: The cold struck right through our jackets.
7. To take bait: The fish are striking.
8. To dart or shoot suddenly forward in an attempt to inflict a bite or wound. Used of snakes and wild animals.
9. To set out or proceed, especially in a new direction: struck off into the forest.
10. To begin to move: The horse struck into a gallop.
a. To send out roots.
b. To sprout.
a. To indicate the time by making a percussive or chiming sound: The clock struck just as we left.
b. To become indicated by a percussive or chiming sound: The hour has struck.
13. To become ignited.
14. To discover something suddenly or unexpectedly: struck on a new approach.
15. To fall, as light or sound: sunlight striking on the cliffs; a din struck upon their ears.
16. To have an effect; make an impression.
17. To engage in a strike against an employer.
18. To interrupt by pushing oneself forward: struck rudely into the conversation.
19. To strive diligently for a specific technical rating in the US Navy.
1. An act or gesture of striking.
2. An attack, especially a military air attack on a single group of targets.
3. Sports A scoring attempt, often resulting in a goal.
a. A cessation of work by employees in support of demands made on their employer, as for higher pay or improved conditions.
b. A temporary stoppage of normal activity undertaken as a protest.
5. A sudden achievement or valuable discovery, as of a precious mineral.
a. The taking of bait by a fish.
b. A pull on a fishing line indicating this.
7. A quantity of coins or medals struck at the same time.
a. Baseball A pitched ball that is counted against the batter, typically one that is swung at and missed, fouled off, or judged to have passed through the strike zone.
b. A perfectly thrown ball: The quarterback threw a strike to the receiver.
9. An unfavorable condition, circumstance, or characteristic; a disadvantage: "[They] were trying to sell a movie with several strikes against it as a mass-audience 'property'" (John Sayles).
10. Sports
a. The knocking down of all the pins in bowling with the first bowl of a frame.
b. The score so made.
11. The taking root and growing of a plant cutting.
12. Geology The course or bearing of a structural surface, such as an inclined bed, as it intersects a horizontal plane.
13. The removal of all properties, sets, and technical equipment following a final performance, as of a play or concert.
14. A strickle.
15. A device serving the functions of a strike plate, especially one that can be electronically released to allow access.
Phrasal Verbs:
strike down
1. To cause to fall by a blow.
2. To incapacitate or kill: He was struck down by tuberculosis.
3. To invalidate: The court struck down the law as unconstitutional.
strike out
1. To begin a course of action.
2. To set out energetically.
3. Baseball To pitch three strikes to (a batter), putting the batter out. To be struck out.
4. To fail in an endeavor.
strike up
1. To start to play music or sing: The band suddenly struck up. To start to play or sing (something): The orchestra struck up a waltz. To cause to start to play or sing: Strike up the band!
2. To initiate or begin: strike up a conversation.
on strike
Engaged in a work stoppage: Most of the employees were on strike.
strike hands
To conclude a bargain or reach an agreement.
strike it rich Informal
To have sudden financial success.

[Middle English striken, from Old English strīcan, to stroke; see streig- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Our Living Language The central role that baseball has played in American culture is known to all, but is particularly evident in the abundance of baseball expressions applied to circumstances outside the sport. When people say that they have struck out in an endeavor, they are using one such expression. We routinely speak of ballpark figures or estimates, of some unexpected quirk of fate or tricky question on an exam being a curve ball, of minor-league or bush-league players in a field or business, who might one day enter the big leagues. If we can't go to lunch with a person who invites us, we take a rain check. We can go to bat or pinch-hit for a friend. We can be off base about something or so disconnected we are out in left field. When we cooperate we are playing ball, and when we get serious or even ruthless about something, we are playing hardball. Some unfortunate people are said to have been born with two strikes against them if bad things come their way right off the bat. The list could go on and on, but that would only be running up the score.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    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.