The Meaning of Hit A Lick: What It Is and How To Use It

This article will give you all of the information you need on the phrase hit a lick, including its definition, origin, usage and more!

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What does hit a lick mean?

Hit a lick is a slang term which means to acquire a large sum of fast money in a short amount of time, according to Cyber Definitions. Sometimes, according to SlangLang, this can be from robbing a bank, selling drugs, or other illegal activity, or one can hit a lick by gambling or playing the stock market. Urban Dictionary states that the term can also be hyphenated as “hit-a-lick.”

According to Online Slang Dictionary, a “lick” itself can be used to mean a robber who steals to make  a lot of money, someone who is an easy target for robbers, a prostitute, stripper, drug dealer, or a drug dealer’s customer. If used as a verb, “to lick” could mean to make money illegally and is also used in the phrases “catch a lick,” “bust a lick,” or “bust some licks.” Many know it to mean to buy drugs, or to beat someone up.

The Dictionary of American Regional English also states that the similar term “a hit and a lick” can be used to mean to give something a once over, or to do a hasty job of something, similar to the phrase “a lick and a promise.” Grammarphobia says that it is not a widely used phrase, with only a couple dozen uses since the late 19th century in published works.

They believe that the phrase “a hit and a lick” may be a conflation of the idioms “hit or miss” and “a lick and a promise.” This slang phrase could also conflate “hit a lick,” which the Green Dictionary of Slang states can also mean to make an effort, especially in negative connotations. The not widely used phrase “A hit and a lick” likely stems from “a lick and a promise,” “hit a lick,” and “hit or miss.”

What is the etymology of the phrase hit a lick?

The phrase was initially used to describe a thief or robber, particularly one who goes after a large amount of money, such as robbing a drug dealer or a liquor store. However, the phrase has expanded to mean any means by which to get a large sum of money quickly and with minimal effort, like the lottery, gambling, or the stock market.

The meaning of hit a lick refers to the instant gratification of licking something like an ice cream cone or a lollipop.

The earliest use of the similar phrase “a hit and a lick” was from the biking journal Wheel and Cycling Trade Review from 1891. In the journal, they used the phrase to mean to give something a modest try. The phrase can also be seen in a 1920 journal from Illinois, the Institution Quarterly. Here, they use the phrase to mean a small attempt at rejuvenation. This phrase is certainly not as common as “hit a lick,” and “hit a lick” is not an abbreviation for “a hit and a lick.”

How can hit a lick be used in a sentence?

Hit a lick can be used in a plethora of casual sentences, along with its variants “catch a lick” and “bust a lick.” These slang words should never be used in formal contexts or professional circumstances. One should never tell their superior that they are excited to hit a lick on pay day – they may think that they plan to go rob someone after they clock off! Below are a few circumstances in which the phrase would be appropriate to use.

Simon and Sanne just spent a holiday weekend away in Las Vegas. They have split up, Simon to play blackjack and Sanne to go play the nickel slots. Simon is just leaving the blackjack table then he sees Sanne come running up to him, excited.

Sanne: Simon, you won’t believe it! I just hit a lick on the slots; I won almost a thousand dollars!

Simon: Wow! That’s amazing! I lost two hundred at the blackjack tables.

Jason and a group of his coworkers decided to go in on a lottery ticket together. He walks into the lunchroom on Monday morning having checked the ticket and his coworkers look at him in anticipation.

Coworker: Well? Did we win anything?

Jason: We didn’t…

The coworkers look on, disappointed.

Jason: We didn’t just win, we hit a lick! Ten grand to split between us!

The coworkers cheer!

These are two circumstances in which the phrase hit a lick would be appropriate to use.

Where is hit a lick used in popular culture?

The tranding phrase has been used throughout manu rap songs. Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams, and 2 Chainz collaborated to create the song “Momma I Hit A Lick.” Additionally, the phrase is used in such songs as YG’s “Thank God” and Yo Gotti’s “Cold Blood.” It has also been used by Gucci Mane, Lud Foe, J. Cole, Lil Yachty, and many more!

According to Daily Rap Facts, the term was first used in rap by rapper Scarface on his 1991 track “Good Girl Gone Bad.” In this song, he rapped, “If it came through, we hit a big lick.” Rapper Roddy rich also recently re-popularized the term with his 2019 song “The Box,” in which he raps, “I just hit a lick with the box.”

Overall, the phrase hit a lick means to acquire a large sum of money quickly and without effort. This can be used in illegal circumstances, such as selling drugs or robbing someone, or in more wholesome circumstances like gambling or playing the lottery.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cyberdefinitions.com/definitions/HIT_A_LICK.html#:~:text=HIT%20A%20LICK%20means%20%22Get%20a%20Lot%20of%20Money%20Quickly%22
  2. https://www.slanglang.net/hit-a-lick/
  3. http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/lick
  4. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hit%20a%20lick
  5. https://dailyrapfacts.com/14258/what-does-lick-and-hit-a-lick-mean/
  6. https://dare.wisc.edu/surveys/survey-results/1965-1970/manner-of-action-or-being/kk49/
  7. https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2015/01/a-hit-and-a-lick.html