Word of the Day: tuck

tuck (verb, noun) /tʌk/ LISTEN

A man tucking his pants into his socks

To tuck means ‘to put something into a closed and secure place’ (often with away) and also ‘to hold something in place by pushing the loose ends of it into or under something’ (often with ininto or under), as we do with clothes or bedsheets. Tuck also means ‘to put a child to bed’ (always with in), sometimes literally by covering them tightly with the sheets under the mattress. In the UK, tuck in also means ‘to start eating something.’ As a noun, a tuck is a fold sewn into cloth to make a tighter fit or to add decoration. It is also a position in sports such as skiing, where the knees are bent and the arms are held close to the chest. In addition, it is a verb to describe this movement.

Example sentences

  • I tucked that document away in a drawer somewhere, and now I can't remember exactly where it is!
  • Lucila quickly tucked her shirt into her skirt as she saw her manager approaching.
  • The children always like both their parents to come and tuck them in.
  • The food is ready; tuck in everyone!
  • Eugene was hungry and tucked into his meal straight away.
  • Marilyn had lost a lot of weight, so she had to put a tuck in the waistband of her pants.
  • The skiier dropped into a tuck in order to gain speed.
  • Gymnasts often tuck their legs into their torsos when doing flips.

Did you know?

In UK English, tuck is also an informal word, particularly in school vocabulary, for food, especially cakes and sweets. It is a little bit dated now, but you will still see it in books, especially ones about schools, and some schools still have tuck shops. A related word in Australian and New Zealand English is tucker, which is also an informal word for food, but it’s not particularly related to schools or schoolchildren.

Origin

Tuck has been around since before the year 900. In Old English, tūcian meant ‘to stretch (cloth or clothes, in order to finish them),’ but also ‘to torment.’ In Middle English it evolved to t(o)uken, still meaning ‘to stretch cloth or clothes,’ but it had lost the ‘torment’ sense. It is related to, and may even have come from, the Middle Low German verb tucken, meaning ‘to tug’ (which evolved into the German verb zucken). The noun first appeared in the late 14th century.

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