A picket is a vertical wooden board in a fence. You might have a white picket fence enclosing your whole front yard, so your little dog can't escape.

Besides the "wooden stake or strip" meaning, you can also use picket as a verb to mean "protest or strike." When disgruntled workers go on strike, they often picket outside their workplace, holding signs and chanting. You can also call one of these protesting workers a picket. The original meaning, from the 1680s, is "a pointed stake used as a defensive weapon." And the original picket line was a line of military troops.

Primary Meanings of picket

a wooden strip forming part of a fence
fasten with a picket
a detachment of troops guarding an army from surprise attack
take part in a strike or protest
Full Definitions of picket

n a wooden strip forming part of a fence

Type of:
thin piece of wood or metal

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

Type of:
torture, torturing
the deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons in an attempt to force another person to yield information or to make a confession or for any other reason

v fasten with a picket

picket the goat”
Type of:
fasten, fix, secure
cause to be firmly attached

n a detachment of troops guarding an army from surprise attack

Type of:
a small unit of troops of special composition

n a person employed to keep watch for some anticipated event

lookout, lookout man, scout, sentinel, sentry, spotter, watch
Type of:
security guard, watcher, watchman
a guard who keeps watch

n a vehicle performing sentinel duty

picket boat
a boat serving as a picket
picket ship
a ship serving as a picket
Type of:
military vehicle
vehicle used by the armed forces

n a protester posted by a labor organization outside a place of work

Type of:
demonstrator, protester
someone who participates in a public display of group feeling

v take part in a strike or protest

picket a business to protest the layoffs”
Type of:
demonstrate, march
march in protest; take part in a demonstration

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.