American English

Definition of neck noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] the part of the body between the head and the shoulders He tied a scarf around his neck. I woke up with a stiff neck. Giraffes have very long necks. She craned (= stretched)her neck to get a better view. He broke his neck in the fall. Somebody's going to break their neck (= injure themselves) on these steps. Topic CollocationsPhysical AppearanceA person may be described as having:eyes (bright) blue/green/(dark/light) brown/hazel eyes deep-set/sunken/bulging/protruding eyes small/beady/sparkling/twinkling/shifty eyes piercing/penetrating/steely eyes bloodshot/watery/puffy eyes bushy/thick/dark/raised/arched eyebrows long/dark/thick/curly/false eyelashes/lashesface a flat/bulbous/pointed/sharp/snub nose a straight/a pointy/a Roman/an aquiline nose full/thick/thin/pouty lips dry/chapped/cracked lips flushed/rosy/red/ruddy/pale cheeks soft/chubby/sunken cheeks white/perfect/crooked/protruding teeth a large/high/broad/wide forehead a strong/weak/pointed/double chin a long/full/bushy/wispy beard a full/thin goatee a long/thin/bushy/droopy/handlebar/pencil mustachehair and skin pale/fair/olive/dark/tanned skin dry/oily/smooth/rough/leathery/wrinkled skin a dark/pale/light/sallow/ruddy/olive/swarthy/clear complexion deep/fine/small/facial wrinkles blonde/blond/fair/(light/dark) brown/(jet-)black/auburn/red/ginger/gray hair straight/curly/wavy/frizzy/spiky hair thick/thin/fine/bushy/thinning hair dyed/bleached/soft/silky/dry/greasy/shiny hair long/short/shoulder-length/cropped hair a bald/balding/shaved head a receding hairline a bald patch/spot a side/center partbody a long/short/thick/slender/ (disapproving) scrawny neck broad/narrow/sloping/rounded/hunched shoulders a bare/broad/muscular/small/large chest a flat/round/swollen/bulging stomach a small/tiny/narrow/slim/slender/28-inch waist big/wide/narrow/slim hips a straight/bent/arched/broad/hairy back thin/slender/muscular arms big/large/small/manicured/calloused/gloved hands long/short/fat/slender/delicate/bony fingers long/muscular/hairy/shapely/ (informal) (often disapproving) skinny/spindly legs muscular/chubby/ (informal) (disapproving) flabby thighs/calves big/little/small/dainty/wide/narrow/bare feet a good/slim/slender/hourglass figure be of slim/medium/average/large/athletic/stocky build
  2. 2[countable] the part of a piece of clothing that fits around the neck What neck size do you take? see also crew neck, V-neck
  3. 3-necked (in adjectives) having the type of neck mentioned a round-necked sweater see also open-necked, stiff-necked
  4. 4[countable] neck (of something) a long, narrow part of something the neck of a bottle a neck of land
  5. 5[uncountable] the neck of an animal, cooked and eaten lamb neck see also bottleneck, redneck, roughneck
  6. Idioms
    be up to your neck in something
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    to have a lot of something to deal with We're up to our neck in debt. He's in it (= trouble) up to his neck.
    breathe down somebody's neck (informal)
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    to watch closely what someone is doing in a way that makes them feel anxious and/or annoyed I can't get any work done with you breathing down my neck.
    if a person or an animal wins a race by a neck, they win it by a short distance
    by the scruff of the/somebody's neck
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    roughly holding the back of an animal's or person's neck She grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him out.
    a millstone around your neck
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    a difficult problem or responsibility that it seems impossible to solve or get rid of My debts are a millstone around my neck. Unemployment was an economic millstone around the country's neck.
    neck and neck (with somebody/something) (also nip and tuck (with somebody))
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    level with someone in a race or competition The bikers were neck and neck as they approached the final lap.
    neck of the woods (informal)
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    a particular place or area He's from your neck of the woods (= the area where you live). What are you doing in this neck of the woods?
    a pain in the butt/neck (informal)
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    a person or thing that is very annoying
    put/lay your head/neck on the block
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    to risk losing your job, damaging your reputation, etc. by doing or saying something It's not a matter that I'm prepared to put my head on the block for.
    risk life and limb, risk your neck
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    to risk being killed or injured in order to do something She risked life and limb to save her children from the fire.
    save somebody's bacon/neck (informal)
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    to rescue someone from a very difficult situation
    save your (own) skin/hide/neck
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    to try to avoid death, punishment, etc., especially by leaving others in an extremely difficult situation To save his own skin, he lied and blamed the accident on his friend.
    stick your neck out (informal)
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    to do or say something when there is a risk that you may be wrong I'll stick my neck out and say that Bill is definitely the best candidate for the job.
    wring somebody's neck (informal)
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    when you say that you will wring someone's neck, you mean that you are very angry or annoyed with them
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: neck