Word of the Day: spike

Word of the Day
June 16, 2016
spike (noun, verb)
/spaɪk/  sound icon
A spike is a nail-like metal fastener used in construction and, by extension, any sharp, pointed thing. A spike is also a sharp and sudden rise or increase. To spike also means 'to add alcohol to a nonalcoholic drink' or 'to add more alcohol to an alcoholic drink,' usually without the person whose drink it is knowing you have done so.


Example sentences
The carpenter drove the spikes into the wood.
The fence was topped with spikes to stop people from climbing over it.
The doctor was worried by the spike in the child's temperature.
Dan couldn't understand why he felt drunk, but then he found out someone had been spiking his drinks all night.
In movies, a mischievous student often spikes the punch at the school dance.


Multi-word forms
spike someone's guns (UK): literally, to put a spike on a gun to prevent it from firing. By extension, figuratively, it now means 'to frustrate, or thwart, someone's plans.' Example: "Nancy really wanted to get the promotion at work, but her colleague spiked her guns by telling the boss about the mistake she had made."
Additional information
Newspaper editors used to have a long spike on their desks where they would file stories they had decided not to use, by piercing them with the spike to hold them in place. Because of this, spike can also mean 'to reject a news story.' Example: "I thought I had a great story, but the editor spiked it!"
Did you know?
In volleyball, spike means to hit the ball very hard close to the net, so that it goes straight down on the other side, making it hard for the other team to hit it before it hits the ground. American football players also spike the ball when they score a touchdown, by throwing it to the ground in celebration.
Other forms
spiked (adjective), spiky (adjective), spikily (adverb)
The noun spike was first used in the early 14th century, and comes from the Middle English word spik(e), which in turn originated from the Old Norse word spīkr, meaning nail. It is similar to the Old Norse word spīk and the Middle Low German word spīker, which also mean nail. As a verb, spike comes form the noun, and was first used in the 19th century.
Spike in other languages
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