Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A pointed stake often driven into the ground to support a fence, secure a tent, tether animals, mark points in surveying, or, when pointed at the top, serve as a defense.
  • n. A detachment of one or more troops, ships, or aircraft held in readiness or advanced to warn of an enemy's approach: "The outlying sonar picket.... was to detect, localize, and engage any submarine trying to close the convoy” ( Tom Clancy).
  • n. A person or group of persons stationed outside a place of employment, usually during a strike, to express grievance or protest and discourage entry by nonstriking employees or customers.
  • n. A person or group of persons present outside a building to protest.
  • transitive v. To enclose, secure, tether, mark out, or fortify with pickets.
  • transitive v. To post as a picket.
  • transitive v. To guard with a picket.
  • transitive v. To post a picket or pickets during a strike or demonstration.
  • intransitive v. To act or serve as a picket.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A stake driven into the ground.
  • n. A type of punishment by which an offender had to rest his or her entire body weight on the top of a small stake.
  • n. A tool in mountaineering that is driven into the snow and used as an anchor or to arrest falls.
  • n. Soldiers or troops placed on a line forward of a position to warn against an enemy advance. It can also refer to any unit (for example, an aircraft or ship) performing a similar function.
  • n. A sentry. Can be used figuratively.
  • n. A protester positioned outside an office, workplace etc. during a strike (usually in plural); also the protest itself.
  • v. To protest, organized by a labour union, typically in front of the location of employment.
  • v. To enclose or fortify with pickets or pointed stakes.
  • v. To tether to, or as if to, a picket.
  • v. To guard, as a camp or road, by an outlying picket.
  • v. To torture by forcing to stand with one foot on a pointed stake.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A stake sharpened or pointed, especially one used in fortification and encampments, to mark bounds and angles; or one used for tethering horses.
  • n. A pointed pale, used in marking fences.
  • n. A detached body of troops serving to guard an army from surprise, and to oppose reconnoitering parties of the enemy; -- called also outlying picket.
  • n. By extension, men appointed by a trades union, or other labor organization, to intercept outsiders, and prevent them from working for employers with whom the organization is at variance.
  • n. A military punishment, formerly resorted to, in which the offender was forced to stand with one foot on a pointed stake.
  • n. A game at cards. See Piquet.
  • transitive v. To fortify with pointed stakes.
  • transitive v. To inclose or fence with pickets or pales.
  • transitive v. To tether to, or as to, a picket.
  • transitive v. To guard, as a camp or road, by an outlying picket.
  • transitive v. To torture by compelling to stand with one foot on a pointed stake.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A pointed post, stake, or bar, usually of wood.
  • n. Milit.: A guard posted in front of an army to give notice of the approach of the enemy: called-an outlying picket.
  • n. A detachment of troops in a camp kept fully equipped and ready for immediate service in case of an alarm or the approach of an enemy: called an inlying picket.
  • n. A small detachment of men sent out from a camp or garrison to bring in such of the soldiers as have exceeded their leave. See guard, post, etc.
  • n. A body of men belonging to a trades-union sent to watch and annoy men working in a shop not belonging to the union, or against which a strike is in progress.
  • n. A game at cards. See piquet.
  • n. A punishment which consists in making the offender stand with one foot on a pointed stake.
  • n. An elongated projectile pointed in front.
  • To fortify with pickets or pointed stakes; also, to inclose or fence with narrow pointed boards or pales.
  • To fasten to a picket or stake, as a horse.
  • To torture by compelling to stand with one foot on a pointed stake.
  • To place or post as a guard of observation.
  • To make into pickets.
  • n. The tern or sea-swallow. Also pickie.
  • To place a picket or guard (see picket, n., 3) near a shop or mill, during a strike, to prevent men who do not belong to the striking organization or body from obtaining work in the shop, or to prevent the employers from securing such laborers.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person employed to keep watch for some anticipated event
  • n. a protester posted by a labor organization outside a place of work
  • n. a form of military punishment used by the British in the late 17th century in which a soldier was forced to stand on one foot on a pointed stake
  • n. a wooden strip forming part of a fence
  • n. a detachment of troops guarding an army from surprise attack
  • v. serve as pickets or post pickets
  • n. a vehicle performing sentinel duty
  • v. fasten with a picket

Etymologies

French piquet, from Old French, from piquer, to prick; see pique.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French piquet, from piquer ("to pierce"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • All quiet along the Potomac to-night,
    No sound save the rush of the river,
    While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead -
    The picket's off duty forever.

    Ethel Lynn Beers (1827-1879), All Quiet along the Potomac

    September 19, 2009