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 ©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.