pick (someone or something) off

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pick (someone or something) off

To shoot someone or something from a larger group, especially from a distance. My dog runs into the bushes to scare the birds. That way I can pick them off as they fly away. The sniper began picking off enemy targets around the entrance to the encampment.
See also: off, pick

pick someone or something off (of) someone or something

 and pick someone or something off
to pull or gather someone or something off something. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) The teacher picked the little boys off the jungle gym and hurried them back into the school building before the storm hit. Pick off the ripe tomatoes and leave the rest.
See also: off, pick

pick off

Shoot after singling out, as in The hunter picked off the ducks one by one. [Early 1800s]
See also: off, pick

pick off

v.
1. To remove or pluck something from a surface: I picked off the price tag before wrapping the gift. We picked the dead leaves off the plant.
2. To shoot and kill something or someone with a gun, especially from a distance: The hunter picked the ducks off one by one. The sniper picked off an enemy soldier.
3. Baseball To throw the ball to an occupied base and put out a runner who is taking a lead: The catcher picked off the runner as he was trying to steal a base. The runner took a big lead, and the pitcher picked her off at first base.
4. Sports To intercept something, as a pass in American football: The cornerback picked off an errant pass and ran it back for a touchdown. The quarterback threw a low pass and a linebacker picked it off.
See also: off, pick