pick off(redirected from picked them off)
1. To remove something adhered to something else by pulling at it with one's fingertips. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "off." Please pick the labels off before you put the banana peels in the compost bin. He kept picking off the scabs on his knees—it was making me feel sick!
2. In baseball or softball, to put out a baserunner (who is taking a lead or trying to steal a base) by throwing the ball to the baseman, who then tags that runner. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "off." The catcher noticed the runner trying to steal second base, so he picked him off before he could get back to first.
3. To intercept something that someone else was trying to obtain or achieve. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "off." The linebacker was able to pick off the pass and run it back for a touchdown. I can't believe Jim picked my clients off like that!
4. To shoot someone or something from a larger group, especially from a distance. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "off." 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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
pick someone or something off (of) someone or somethingand 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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Shoot after singling out, as in The hunter picked off the ducks one by one. [Early 1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.