Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Favorite Word

There are a lot of contenders, but right now, for its luminous versatility, it has to be this one:

strike |strīk|
verb ( past struck |strək|)
1 [ trans. ] hit forcibly and deliberately with one's hand or a weapon or other implement : he raised his hand, as if to strike me | one man was struck on the head with a stick | [ intrans. ] Edgar struck out at her.
• inflict (a blow) : [with two objs. ] he struck her two blows on the leg.
• accidentally hit (a part of one's body) against something : she fell, striking her head against the side of the boat.
• come into forcible contact or collision with : he was struck by a car on Whitepark Road.
• (of a beam or ray of light or heat) fall on (an object or surface) : the light struck her ring, reflecting off the diamond.
• (in sporting contexts) hit or kick (a ball) so as to score a run, point, or goal : he struck the ball into the back of the net.
• [ intrans. ] (of a clock) indicate the time by sounding a chime or stroke : [with complement ] the church clock struck twelve.
• ignite (a match) by rubbing it briskly against an abrasive surface.
• produce (fire or a spark) as a result of friction : his iron stick struck sparks from the pavement.
• bring (an electric arc) into being.
• produce (a musical note) by pressing or hitting a key.
2 [ trans. ] (of a disaster, disease, or other unwelcome phenomenon) occur suddenly and have harmful or damaging effects on : an earthquake struck the island | [ intrans. ] tragedy struck when he was killed in a car crash | [as adj. in combination ] ( struck) storm-struck areas.
• [ intrans. ] carry out an aggressive or violent action, typically without warning : it was eight months before the murderer struck again.
• (usu. be struck down) kill or seriously incapacitate (someone) : he was struck down by a mystery virus.
• ( strike something into) cause or create a particular strong emotion in (someone) : drugs—a subject guaranteed to strike fear into parents' hearts.
• [ trans. ] cause (someone) to be in a specified state : he was struck dumb.
3 [ trans. ] (of a thought or idea) come into the mind of (someone) suddenly or unexpectedly : a disturbing thought struck Melissa.
• cause (someone) to have a particular impression : [with clause ] it struck him that Marjorie was unusually silent | the idea struck her as odd.
• ( be struck by/with) find particularly interesting, noticeable, or impressive : Lucy was struck by the ethereal beauty of the scene.
4 [ intrans. ] (of employees) refuse to work as a form of organized protest, typically in an attempt to obtain a particular concession or concessions from their employer : workers may strike over threatened job losses.
• [ trans. ] undertake such action against (an employer).
5 [ trans. ] cancel, remove, or cross out with or as if with a pen : strike his name from the list | striking words through with a pen.
• ( strike someone off) officially remove someone from membership of a professional group : he had been struck off as a disgrace to the profession.
• ( strike something down) abolish a law or regulation : the law was struck down by the Supreme Court.
6 [ trans. ] make (a coin or medal) by stamping metal.
• (in cinematography) make (another print) of a film.
• reach, achieve, or agree to (something involving agreement, balance, or compromise) : the team has struck a deal with a sports marketing agency | you have to strike a happy medium.
• (in financial contexts) reach (a figure) by balancing an account : last year's loss was struck after allowing for depreciation of 67 million dollars.
• Canadian form (a committee) : the government struck a committee to settle the issue.
7 [ trans. ] discover (gold, minerals, or oil) by drilling or mining.
• [ intrans. ] ( strike on/upon) discover or think of, esp. unexpectedly or by chance : pondering, she struck upon a brilliant idea.
• come to or reach : several days out of the village, we struck the Gilgit Road.
8 [ intrans. ] move or proceed vigorously or purposefully : she struck out into the lake with a practiced crawl | he struck off down the track.
• ( strike out) start out on a new or independent course or endeavor : after two years he was able to strike out on his own.
9 [ trans. ] take down (a tent or the tents of an encampment) : it took ages to strike camp.
• dismantle (theatrical scenery) : the minute we finish this evening, they'll start striking the set.
• lower or take down (a flag or sail), esp. as a salute or to signify surrender : the ship struck her German colors.
10 [ trans. ] insert (a cutting of a plant) in soil to take root.
• [ intrans. ] (of a plant or cutting) develop roots : small conifers will strike from cuttings.
• [ intrans. ] (of a young oyster) attach itself to a bed.
11 [ intrans. ] Fishing secure a hook in the mouth of a fish by jerking or tightening the line after it has taken the bait or fly.
1 a refusal to work organized by a body of employees as a form of protest, typically in an attempt to gain a concession or concessions from their employer : dockers voted for an all-out strike | local government workers went on strike | [as adj. ] strike action.
• [with adj. ] a refusal to do something expected or required, typically by a body of people, with a similar aim : a rent strike.
2 a sudden attack, typically a military one : the threat of nuclear strikes.
• (in bowling) an act of knocking down all the pins with one's first ball.
• Fishing an act or instance of jerking or tightening the line to secure a fish that has already taken the bait or fly.
3 a discovery of gold, minerals, or oil by drilling or mining : the Lena goldfields strike of 1912.
4 Baseball a pitch that is counted against the batter, in particular one that the batter swings at and misses, or that passes through the strike zone without the batter swinging, or that the batter hits foul (unless two strikes have already been called). A batter accumulating three strikes is out.
• a pitch that passes through the strike zone and is not hit.
• something to one's discredit : when they returned from Vietnam they had two strikes against them.
5 the horizontal or compass direction of a stratum, fault, or other geological feature.
6 short for fly strike .


strike a balance
strike a blow for (or at/against)
strike a chord
strike at the root (or roots) of
strike hands
strike home
strike it rich
strike me pink
strike a pose
strike while the iron is hot


strike back
strike in
strike someone out (or strike out)
• ( strike out) informal fail or be unsuccessful
strike up (or strike something up) (of a band or orchestra)
• ( strike something up) begin a friendship or conversation with someone, typically in a casual way.


Old English strīcan [go, flow] and [rub lightly] ; related to German streichen ‘to stroke,’ also to stroke . The sense [deliver a blow] dates from Middle English .

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