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pick a bone with (someone)
To fight, quarrel, or squabble with someone, usually over a specific point. When you get in any discussions on the Internet, you'll always encounter people who pick a bone with you purely for their own twisted entertainment. This meal is awful! Where's the manager? I'm going to go pick a bone with her!
pick away at (something)
To focus on, scrutinize, or dwell upon every small or minor fault, problem, or failing of or about something. I wish the principal wouldn't pick away at the teachers like that. They're all trying to be the best teachers they can!
pick (one's) nose
1. Literally, to remove nasal mucus (i.e., "boogers") with one's finger. Tommy! Quit picking your nose, that's a filthy habit!
2. By extension, to dawdle, fool around, or waste time idly. No wonder we're losing so much money—half our staff just stands around picking their noses for most of the day!
pick (someone or something) out of a hat
To select someone or something entirely at random. I don't understand why our company is being targeted. It's as if the IRS picked us out of a hat to scrutinize! It doesn't really matter who gets promoted to assistant manager—just pick a name out of a hat for all I care!
pick up the hint
To understand, comprehend, or take notice of an indirect suggestion, implication, or insinuation. Halfway through the lecture, I picked up the hint my students were planning some kind of practical joke at the end of class. When are you going to pick up the hint that Sally doesn't want to date you anymore?
pick (something) up where (one) left off
To resume or start (something) again from the last point where one had previously stopped. If it's OK with you, I'd like to go out on a date and try to pick up where we left off! OK, now that the rain's stopped, let's pick this game up where we left off!
pick (one's) battle(s)
To choose not to participate in minor, unimportant, or overly difficult arguments, contests, or confrontations, saving one's strength instead for those that will be of greater importance or where one has a greater chance of success. As a parent, you learn to pick your battles with your kids so you don't run yourself ragged with nagging them. The best politicians pick their battles wisely: if one becomes too embroiled in petty debates, one never gets anything done.
See also: pick
pick up the gauntlet
To accept or attempt a challenge or invitation, as to fight, argue, or compete. When it comes to civil rights issues, Mary is always eager to pick up the gauntlet. When the heavyweight champion boasted that nobody could beat him, no one expected this newcomer to pick up the gauntlet.
pick up what (one) is putting down
slang To understand what someone is saying, especially when something is insinuated, rather than stated directly. A: "I'm going to say that I'm busy on Sunday, and I think you should too." B: "I'm picking up what you're putting down—I don't want to go to this family reunion either!" If I see you around here again, there's going to be trouble. Are you picking up what I'm putting down?
1. To choose something very carefully to ensure that the best option is chosen, perhaps through means that provide one an unfair advantage or from a selection that others do not have ready access to. I can't believe he left the company and then cherry-picked the best employee in my department! Yes, you will get to cherry-pick all the equipment that goes into your studio.
2. slang In sports such as basketball and soccer (football), to position oneself away from the current play on one's opponent's defensive end for an opportunity to receive the ball and score an easy basket or goal. We might not have gotten scored on if you had actually been playing defense instead of cherry-picking!
pick up sticks
To relocate from one's current residence. The more I think about how much we love the coast, the more I think we should just pick up sticks and find a place near the beach.
pick a fight
To act aggressively or in a certain way toward someone in order to provoke them into a fight. I don't know why she was so critical of me tonight—it's like she was trying to pick a fight or something. He's the kind of troll who just posts on the message board to pick a fight.
pick up speed
1. Literally, to begin moving faster; to accelerate. The sled picked up speed as it slid down the hill.
2. To become more valuable. Don't sell your house just yet—homes in this area should pick up speed in the summer.
pick up the tab
To pay the bill for something, often at a bar or restaurant. Paul said he's picking up the tab tonight, so I'm definitely ordering another drink!
be picked out of a hat
To be selected entirely at random. I don't understand why our company is being targeted. It's as if we were picked out of a hat by the IRS! It doesn't really matter who gets promoted to assistant manager—a name can be picked out of a hat for all I care!
pick a winner
To choose someone or something that is very likely to prove beneficial, suitable, or successful. The design is clean and practical, but still elegant and appealing—I think we picked a winner! Samantha is so warm and intelligent, and it's clear that she cares about you a lot. You really picked a winner, Joe.
pick (something) clean
1. To remove every piece of flesh from the bone or body of a person or animal. The body of my poor horse hadn't been out for more than a few hours before the vultures and other desert dwellers had picked it clean. You must have been hungry! I wasn't expecting you to pick that drumstick clean.
2. To remove everything from something or some place. You'd better get to the store early during the big sale, because people pick the shelves clean in no time. The boss said we could take anything left behind in the office, so we went through and picked the building clean.
pick up stompies
To join in or interrupt midway through a conversation, generally resulting in a misunderstanding of what's being discussed. Primarily heard in South Africa. John, you're just picking up stompies—we were discussing why this tax is a bad thing, not a good one!
pick (one's) moment
To be circumspect and prudent when deciding the best moment to act. Sometimes used ironically to suggest the opposite. I suggest picking your moment before you ask the boss for a raise. Wow, she broke up with him on his birthday? She really knows how to pick her moment.
Fig. to choose something very carefully. (As if one were closely examining cherries on the tree, looking for the best.) We have to cherry-pick the lumber we want to use for the cabinetry. Nothing but the best will do.
pick a fight (with someone)and pick a quarrel (with someone)
to start a fight or argument with someone on purpose. Are you trying to pick a fight with me? Max intended to pick a quarrel with Lefty.
pick something over
Fig. to look through something carefully, looking for something special. The shoppers who got here first picked everything over, and there is not much left. They picked over all the merchandise.
pick up speed
to increase speed. The train began to pick up speed as it went downhill. The car picked up speed as we moved into the left lane.
pick up the taband pick up the check
to pay the bill. Whenever we go out, my father picks up the tab. Order whatever you want. The company is picking up the check.
rejected; worn, dirty, or undesirable. This merchandise looks worn and picked over. I don't want any of it. Everything in the store is picked over by the end of the month.
Sort out, examine item by item, as in Dad hates to pick over the beans one by one. This term is sometimes put as picked over, describing something that has already been selected from (as in They have almost nothing left; the stock of bathing suits has been picked over). [First half of 1800s]
pick up the gauntletor
take up the gauntlet
If you pick up the gauntlet or take up the gauntlet, you accept a challenge. Note: Gauntlets are long thick gloves which protect your hands, wrists, and forearms. Carlton, a key member of the team, was happy to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by his rival.
be picked out of a hat
If a name or an entry in a competition is picked out of a hat, it is chosen randomly, often by choosing a piece of paper from a container, so that each one has an equal chance of being chosen or winning. All you have to do to win is answer this question correctly and hope you get picked out of the hat. Note: Other verbs, such as draw or pull, are sometimes used instead of pick. The first 10 correct entries drawn out of the hat will win a pair of tickets, worth £20 each.
pick up the tab
COMMON If you pick up the tab, you pay for something, often something that you are not responsible for. Pollard picked up the tab for dinner. If your girlfriend is always picking up the tab, the inequality in your relationship may be difficult for you both to handle.
pick up stompiesbreak into a conversation of which you have heard only the end. South African
In Afrikaans, a stompie is a cigarette butt.
pick up the tabpay for something. informal, chiefly North American
pick up ˈspeedgo faster: The train began to pick up speed.
pick up the ˈtab (for something)(informal) pay the bill, especially for a group of people in a restaurant, etc: Her father picked up the tab for all the champagne at the wedding.
pick a ˈwinner
1 choose a horse, etc. that you think is most likely to win a race
2 (informal) make a very good choice: Good choice, George. I think you’ve picked a winner there!
1. To sort through something carefully: We picked over the grapes before buying them. Many of these archaeological sites have been picked over by tourists, and few artifacts remain.
2. To examine or analyze something carefully: The committee picked over the budget, looking for ways to save money.