1. [mid-18C+] an effort, an attempt at something.
2. [mid-19C+] (Aus./N.Z./US) a (short) sprint; intensified as lick of one’s life.
3. [mid-19C+] (US) a rhythm or pace, spec. on the chain gang.
4. constr. with the.
(a) [mid-19C+] (US/US black/W.I.) the correct thing, the proper course of action.
(b) [1940s+] (orig. W.I.) the very best, the supremely fashionable.
5. [1910s+] (later black) a turn, a ‘go’, an attempt; thus one-lick, once only.
6. [1930s+] (US Und.) a theft.
7. [1930s+] (orig. US) a particular phrase of music, i.e. a guitar lick.
8. [1940s+] (US black) a plan, an idea, a scheme.
9. [1960s+] fig. what one does, an action, one’s personal preference.
10. [1970s] (US black) an opportunity.
11. [1990s+] (drugs) a puff on a crack cocaine pipe.
see go for one’s quoits under quoit n.
1. to come into money.
2. to masturbate.
3. to commit armed robbery.
[1920s+] (US) to make an effort; usu. in negative combs. implying laziness on behalf of the subject of the phr. e.g. He hasn’t hit a lick all week.
[1950s–60s] (US black) the last straw.
see what’s your tale? under tale n.1
[2000s+] (US black) a phr. of greeting.