Last modified on 12 January 2015, at 08:27


See also: Spike



From Latin spīca (ear of grain).



spike (plural spikes)

  1. An ear of corn or grain.
    1. (botany) A kind of inflorescence in which sessile flowers are arranged on an unbranched elongated axis.
    2. Short for spike lavender.
      oil of spike
  2. Something pointed or sharp.
    1. A sort of very large nail; anything resembling such a nail in shape.
      • Addison
        He wears on his head the corona radiata [] ; the spikes that shoot out represent the rays of the sun.
    2. The long, narrow part of a woman's high-heeled shoe that elevates the heel.
    3. A sharp peak in a graph.
    4. a surge in power.
    5. (informal) In spikes: running shoes with spikes in the soles.
    6. (volleyball) An attack from, usually, above the height of the net performed with the intent to send the ball straight to the floor of the opponent or off the hands of the opposing block.
  3. (zoology) An adolescent male deer.
  4. (slang) The casual ward of a workhouse.


Derived termsEdit



spike (third-person singular simple present spikes, present participle spiking, simple past and past participle spiked)

  1. To fix on a spike; to pierce or run through with a spike.
    1. To fasten with spikes, or long, large nails.
      to spike down planks
    2. To set or furnish with spikes.
      (Can we find and add a quotation of Young to this entry?)
    3. (military) To render (a gun) unusable by driving a metal spike into its touch hole.
      • 1834, Frederick Marryat, Peter Simple:
        He jumped down, wrenched the hammer from the armourer’s hand, and seizing a nail from the bag, in a few moments he had spiked the gun.
      • 1990, Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game, Folio Society 2010, p. 235-6:
        Small skirmishes also took place, and the Afghans managed to seize a pair of mule-guns and force the British to spike and abandon two other precious guns.
    4. (journalism) To decide not to publish or make public. (From the former practice of newspaper editors impaling sheets of typewritten articles not selected for publication on a metal spike or spindle placed on their desks: see 2010 quotation.)
      • 2002 October 14, Jonathan Sale, “Edward VIII news blackout”, The Guardian:
        Instead, the "Beaver" declared he would spike the story about Wallis Simpson and make sure his fellow media moguls sat on it too.
      • 2010 October 17, John Kelly, “No more 'spiking' and 'killing': A kinder, gentler computer system”, The Washington Post:
        To "spike" a story is to eliminate it before it sees print. It has its origins in a physical act. If you look at old photos of newsrooms from the '30s or '40s, you will see eyeshade-wearing men, their sleeves held up with garters, sitting at long tables. Sticking up from those tables are metal spikes. A story that was insufficient for whatever reason would be smashed atop the spike, the paper perforated and pinioned like a butterfly or the head of a traitor. We long ago stopped using metal spikes, but the word persisted. In our old computer system, you could dispatch a story by clicking on a drop-down menu, highlighting the word "Spike" and clicking enter. It was a bloodless, digital spiking, but I always got a kick out of knowing the word connected me to journalism's past.
    5. (American football) To slam a football to the ground, usually in celebration of scoring a touchdown, or to stop expiring time on the game clock after snapping the ball as to save time for the losing team to attempt to score the tying or winning points.
    6. (volleyball) To attack from, usually, above the height of the net with the intent to send the ball straight to the floor of the opponent or off the hands of the opposing block.
  2. To increase sharply.
    Traffic accidents spiked in December when there was ice on the roads.
  3. To add a small amount of one substance to another.
    The water sample to be tested has been spiked with arsenic, antimony, mercury, and lead in quantities commonly found in industrial effluents.
    • 2014 October 25, Jeff Gordinier, “In search of the perfect taco”, T: The New York Times Style Magazine (international edition), page 100:
      The trailblazing Oaxacan chef Alejandro Ruiz [] has spiked this black-bean sauce with a hidden depth charge of flavor: patches of foliage from a local avocado tree. The leaves electrify the sauce with an unexpected thrum of black licorice.
    1. (specifically) To covertly put alcohol or another intoxicating substance into food or drink.
      She spiked my lemonade with vodka!

Derived termsEdit