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spike 1 (spīk)
a. A long, thick, sharp-pointed piece of wood or metal.
b. A heavy nail.
2. A spikelike part or projection, as:
a. A sharp-pointed projection along the top of a fence or wall.
b. A thin, sharp-pointed vertical rod for impaling papers; a spindle.
c. An elongate unbranched inflorescence with sessile flowers.
d. A thorn or spine.
e. A tuft of hair that is stiffened, as with hair spray or soap, into a point.
f. Slang A hypodermic needle.
a. One of several sharp metal projections set in the sole or in the sole and heel of an athletic shoe for grip.
b. spikes A pair of athletic shoes having such projections.
4. spikes A pair of spike heels.
5. An unbranched antler of a young deer.
6. A young mackerel of small size, usually 15 centimeters (6 inches) or less in length.
a. A sharp rise followed by a sharp decline in a graph or in the tracing of a scientific instrument.
b. A sharp momentary increase in voltage or electric current.
c. A sudden steep increase in prices.
a. Sports The act of driving a volleyball at a sharp angle into the opponent's court by jumping near the net and hitting the ball down hard from above.
b. Football The act of slamming the ball to the ground after succeeding in an important play, as after scoring a touchdown.
c. Football The act of deliberately throwing the ball to the ground as an incomplete pass in order to stop the game clock.
v. spiked, spik·ing, spikes
a. To secure or provide with a spike.
b. To shape into spikes.
2. To impale, pierce, or injure with a spike.
3. To injure with spiked shoes, especially when sliding in baseball.
4. To put an end to; terminate: spike a rumor.
5. Informal
a. To add alcoholic liquor to: spiked the punch with rum.
b. To add a poison or other chemical to: a drink spiked with barbiturates.
c. To add flavor or spice to: "Miss Jane brought him ... cold spring water spiked with a dash of vinegar and a touch of molasses" (Howard Frank Mosher).
d. To add excitement or vitality to: spiked the speech with many jokes.
a. Sports To hit (a volleyball) in a spike.
b. Football To throw (the ball) to the ground in a spike.
7. To render (a muzzleloading gun) useless by driving a spike into the vent.
8. To manifest or undergo a sudden increase in (something) followed by a sharp decrease: spike a high fever.
To manifest or undergo a sudden increase followed by a sharp decrease: Traffic to the website spiked after the scandal broke.

[Middle English, from Old Norse spīk.]

spiker n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
spike 2 (spīk)
1. An ear of grain, as of wheat.
2. Botany A usually elongated, unbranched inflorescence with stalkless flowers arranged along an axis.

[Middle English, from Latin spīca.]

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.