From bicycle, by shortening, and possibly alteration.
One explanation for the pronunciation is that bicycle is parsed to bi(cy)c(le). An alternative explanation is that bicycle is shortened to bic(ycle), and the terminal [s] is converted to a [k] because there is an underlying underspecified [k]/[s] sound, which is softened to [s] in bicycle but retained as [k] in bike; compare the letter ‘c’ (used for [k]/[s]).
bike (plural bikes)
- (bicycle) cross bike; dirt bike; like riding a bike; mountain bike; road bike; utility bike
- (motorcycle) biker; bikey or bikie (Australia); quad bike
- (woman) town bike, village bike
- ^ An Etymological Brainteaser: The Shortening of Bicycle to Bike, Robert B. Hausmann, American Speech, Vol. 51, No. 3/4 (Autumn - Winter, 1976), pp. 272–274
- To ride a bike.
- I biked so much yesterday that I'm very sore today.
- To travel by bike.
- It was such a nice day I decided to bike to the store, though it's far enough I usually take my car.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
From Middle English bike, byke (“a nest of wild bees or wasps", also "honeycomb”). Of Unknown origin. Perhaps a back-formation of Middle English *bykere (“beekeeper”), from Old English bēocere (“beekeeper”); or from Old English *bȳc a byform of Old English būc (“belly; vessel; container”). Compare also Old Norse bý (“bee”).
bike (plural bikes)
- (Scotland, Northern England) A hive of bees, or a nest of wasps, hornets, or ants.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir Walter Scott to this entry?)
- 1955, Robin Jenkins, The Cone-Gatherers, Canongate 2012, p. 107:
- he stood for a minute talking to them about their job of gathering cones, and telling them a story about a tree he'd once climbed which had a wasp's byke in it unbeknown to him.
- (chiefly Scotland, by extension, collective) A crowd of people.