Definition of neck noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//nek//
    ; NAmE NAmE//nek//
    Body parts, Parts of clothing
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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. CollocationsPhysical appearance A 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/(informal) 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 hooked/​a Roman/(formal) 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/​sloping forehead a strong/​weak/​pointed/​double chin a long/​full/​bushy/​wispy/​goatee beard a long/​thin/​bushy/​droopy/​handlebar/​pencil moustache/ (especially US English) 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/​little/​facial wrinkles blonde/​blond/​fair/(light/​dark) brown/(jet-)black/​auburn/​red/(British English) ginger/​grey 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/​centre/(US English) center (British English) parting/ (North American English) partBody a long/​short/​thick/​slender/(disapproving) scrawny neck broad/​narrow/​sloping/​rounded/​hunched shoulders a bare/​broad/​muscular/​small/​large chest a flat/​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/(both informal, often disapproving) skinny/​spindly legs muscular/​chubby/(informal, disapproving) flabby thighs big/​little/​small/​dainty/​wide/​narrow/​bare feet a good/​a slim/​a slender/​an hourglass figure be of slim/​medium/​average/​large/​athletic/​stocky build See related entries: Body parts
  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, polo neck, turtleneck, V-neck See related entries: Parts of clothing
  3. 3-necked (in adjectives) having the type of neck mentioned a round-necked sweater see also open-necked, stiff-necked More Like This Compound adjectives for physical characteristics -beaked, -bellied, -billed, -blooded, -bodied, -cheeked, -chested, -eared, -eyed, -faced, -fingered, -footed, -haired, -handed, -headed, -hearted, -hipped, -lidded, -limbed, -mouthed, -necked, -nosed, -skinned, -tailed, -throated, -toothedSee worksheet.
  4. 4[countable] neck (of something) a long narrow part of something the neck of a bottle a neck of land
  5. 5 [uncountable] neck (of something) the neck of an animal, cooked and eaten neck of lamb
  6. see also bottleneck, redneck, roughneck
    Word OriginOld English hnecca ‘back of the neck’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch nek ‘neck’ and German Nacken ‘nape’.Extra examples He was wearing a black V-neck sweater. He wore a casual shirt with an open neck. He’s out to save his own political neck. I craned my neck to see what was happening at the front. I craned my neck to see what was happening at the head of the queue. I cricked my neck playing tennis and now I can’t turn round properly. I had a crick in my neck from staring up at the sky so long. I keep the key on a string around my neck. I’m not going to risk my neck playing rugby with you! She’s been wearing a neck brace since her car crash. The cat picked up her kitten by the scruff of its neck. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled with fear. The veins in his neck stood out like knotted rope. When he was late again I wanted to wring his neck. the narrow neck of land between the lake and the seaIdioms
    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.
    (British English, informal) a combination of confidence and lack of respect I didn't think she would have the brass neck to do that.
    breathe down somebody’s neck
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    (informal) to watch closely what somebody 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.
    (British English, informal) to be shouted at or punished because of something that you have done
    a millstone around/round 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) especially in US English)
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    level with somebody in a race or competition The cyclists were neck and neck as they approached the final lap.
    (informal) 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 neck (British English also a pain in the arse/backside) (North American English also a pain in the ass/butt)
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    (informal) 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. More Like This Alliteration in idioms belt and braces, black and blue, born and bred, chalk and cheese, chop and change, done and dusted, down and dirty, in dribs and drabs, eat somebody out of house and home, facts and figures, fast and furious, first and foremost, forgive and forget, hale and hearty, hem and haw, kith and kin, mix and match, part and parcel, puff and pant, to rack and ruin, rant and rave, risk life and limb, short and sweet, signed and sealed, spic and span, through thick and thin, this and that, top and tail, tried and tested, wax and waneSee worksheet.
    save somebody’s bacon/neck
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    (informal) to rescue somebody 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.
    (informal) 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
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    (informal) when you say that you will wring somebody’s neck, you mean that you are very angry or annoyed with them See related entries: Anger
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: neck