AskDefine | Define like

Dictionary Definition

like adj
1 resembling or similar; having the same or some of the same characteristics; often used in combination; "suits of like design"; "a limited circle of like minds"; "members of the cat family have like dispositions"; "as like as two peas in a pod"; "doglike devotion"; "a dreamlike quality" [syn: similar] [ant: unlike]
2 equal in amount or value; "like amounts"; "equivalent amounts"; "the same amount"; "gave one six blows and the other a like number"; "an equal number"; "the same number" [syn: equal, equivalent, same] [ant: unlike]
3 having the same or similar characteristics; "all politicians are alike"; "they looked utterly alike"; "friends are generaly alike in background and taste" [syn: alike(p), similar] [ant: unalike]
4 conforming in every respect; "boxes with corresponding dimensions"; "the like period of the preceding year" [syn: comparable, corresponding]


1 prefer or wish to do something; "Do you care to try this dish?"; "Would you like to come along to the movies?" [syn: wish, care]
2 find enjoyable or agreeable; "I like jogging"; "She likes to read Russian novels" [ant: dislike]
3 be fond of; "I like my nephews"
4 feel about or towards; consider, evaluate, or regard; "How did you like the President's speech last night?"
5 want to have; "I'd like a beer now!"

User Contributed Dictionary



  • , /laɪk/, /laIk/
  • Rhymes with: -aɪk

Etymology 1

From lician.


  1. To enjoy, be in favor/favour of.
    I like hamburgers.
    I like the Milwaukee Braves this season.
    I like skiing in winter.
  2. To find attractive; to love.
    I really like Sandra but don't know how to tell her.
  3. To do regularly.
    I like to go to the dentist every 6 months.
  4. In the context of "in certain expressions": To want.
Usage notes
  • In its senses of “enjoy” and “do regularly”, |like is a catenative verb; in the former, it takes a gerund (-ing form), while in the latter, it takes a to-infinitive. See also Appendix:English catenative verbs.
  • sense want |Like is only used to mean “want” in certain expressions, notably “if you like”. That said, its conditional form, would like, is used quite freely as a polite synonym for “want”.
Derived terms
find attractive

Etymology 2

From lic.


  1. similar


  1. Somewhat similar to, reminiscent of.
    These hamburgers taste like leather.
somewhat similar to
  • Arabic: زي qualifier Egyptian dialect
  • Breton: evel
  • Catalan: com
  • Czech: jako, jak
  • Dutch: zoals, als, lijkend op, gelijk (maybe only in Flanders)
  • Esperanto: kiel, kvazaŭ
  • Finnish: kuten
  • French: comme
  • German: wie
  • Greek: σαν
  • Hungarian: mint
  • Ido: quale
  • Italian: come
  • Kurdish:
    Sorani: وه‌ک
  • Lithuanian: lyg
  • Polish: jak
  • Portuguese: como
  • Russian: как
  • Slovene: kot
  • Spanish: como
  • Swedish: som
  • Welsh: fel


  1. In the context of "slang|somewhat|_|dated": A mild intensifier.
    Like, why did you do that?
  2. When preceded by any form of the verb to be, used to mean "to say".
    I was like, "Why did you do that?" and he's like, "I don't know."
Usage notes
  1. The sense meaning "to say" is deliberately informal and commonly used by young people, and often combined with the use of the present tense as a narrative. Similar terms are to go and all, as in I go, "Why did you do that?" and he goes, "I don't know" and I was all, "Why did you do that?" and he was all, "I don't know." The forms with like and all can imply that the attributed remark which follows is representative rather than necessarily an exact quotation; however, in speech these structures do tend to require mimicking the original speakers inflection in a way "said" would not.
slang: mild intensifier
  • Finnish: niinku
  • French: genre
  • Portuguese: tipo
  • Swedish: liksom
slang: be like: to say
  • Finnish: niinku
  • Swedish: liksom, typ


  1. (also the likes of) Someone similar to a given person, or something similar to a given object; a comparative; a type; a sort.
    We shall never see his like again. — Winston Churchill on T.E. Lawrence
    bowls full of sweets, chocolates and the like
    something the likes of which I had never seen before
  2. Something that a given person likes.
    Tell me your likes and dislikes.
something similar to a given person or object
  • Dutch: evenknie, dat soort dingen, gelijkaardige dingen, gelijkaardigheden
  • Esperanto: simila
  • German: seinesgleichen (his like - conjugated for other persons)
  • Swedish: like
something that a given person likes
  • Dutch: favoriet, voorkeur
  • Esperanto: prefero
  • French: préférence
  • German: Vorliebe
  • Italian: preferenza
  • Portuguese: gosto (noun, with closed O; different from verb form gostar, with open O)
  • Telugu: ఇష్టము
Derived terms


  1. Used to place emphasis upon a statement.
    divint ye knaa, like?
Northeast Dialect 2005}}


Extensive Definition

Word history

As a preposition or adjective, it comes from the Middle English like meaning "similar", which in turn comes from Anglo-Saxon gelīc and Old Norse líkr. The verb "to like" came from Anglo-Saxon līcian. Both words may be related to Anglo-Saxon līc = "body", and are cognates of the modern German adjective "gleich" (=same, equal) and the modern Dutch "gelijk".

As a preposition used in comparisons

Like is one of the words in the English language that can introduce a simile. Examples:
  • He eats like a pig.
  • He has a toy like hers.
(Note: This last example is not a simile, which compares two dissimilar things. The fact that the toys are similar precludes this example from being a simile. "His toy spun like Fourth of July fireworks" would work because, although the toy and the fireworks are essentially different, the comparison helps explain how the toy moved.)

As a conjunction

Like is often used in place of the subordinating conjunction as or as if. Examples:
  • They look like they don't want to go to school.
  • They look as if they don't want to go to school.
Many people became aware of the two options in 1954, when a famous ad campaign for Winston cigarettes introduced the slogan "Winston tastes good — like a cigarette should." The slogan was criticised for its usage by prescriptivists, the "as" or "as if" construction being considered more proper. Winston countered with another ad, featuring a woman with greying hair in a bun who insists that ought to be "Winston tastes good as a cigarette should" and is shouted down by happy cigarette smokers asking "What do you want — good grammar or good taste?"
The appropriateness of its usage as a conjunction is still disputed, however. In some circles it is considered a faux pas to use like instead of as or as if, whereas in other circles as sounds stilted.

As a verb

Generally as a verb like refers to a fondness for something or someone. Examples:
  • I like traveling.
  • He doesn't like lima beans.
Like can be used to express a feeling of attraction between two people, weaker than love and distinct from it in important ways. Examples:
  • He likes Anna.
When using the term in this context, many teenagers will differentiate between a mere positive feeling towards someone and a crush by saying "like like" whereas "like" refers to as a friend. Alternately, this differentiation can be made by stressing the word like instead of repeating it. Example:
  • Do you "like" her or do you "like like" her?

As a noun

Like can be used as a noun meaning "preference" or "kind". Examples:
  • We'll never see the like again.
  • She had many likes and dislikes.

In slang and colloquial speech

The word like has developed several non-traditional uses in informal speech. These uses of like are commonly associated with Valley girls in pop culture, as made famous through the song "Valley Girl" by Frank Zappa, released in 1982, and the film of the same name, released the following year. The stereotyped "valley girl" language is an exaggeration of the variants of California English spoken by younger generations.
However, non-traditional usage of the word has been around at least since the 1950s, introduced through beat and jazz culture. The beatnik character Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) in the popular Dobie Gillis TV series of 1959-1963 brought the expression to prominence. The word finds similar use in Scooby Doo (which originated in 1969) : Shaggy: "Like, let's get outta here, Scoob!"
It is also used in the 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange by the narrator as part of his teenage slang. "I, like, didn't say anything."
Such uses of the word like can now be found virtually everywhere English is spoken, particularly by young, native English speakers.
A common eye dialect spelling is loike.

As an adverb

Like can be used as an adverb meaning "nearly" or to indicate that the phrase in which it appears is to be taken metaphorically. This is normally considered to be 'lazy' speech. Examples:
  • I, like, died!
  • They, like, hate you!

As a quotative

Like is sometimes used as a verbum dicendi to introduce a quotation or paraphrase, especially if the quote is being recited from short-term memory and therefore may or may not be exact. If the speaker changes his or her voice to impersonate the person who said the quotation, it is probably in exact words. As in the examples below, Like for this usage is always joined with a "to be" verb (was, were, is etc).
  • She was, like, no way!
  • He was like, I'll be there in five minutes.
  • He was like [speaker's voice deepens], you need to leave the room right now!
Like can also be used to communicate a pantomime, or to paraphrase an explicitly unspoken idea or sentiment:
  • I was like [speaker rolls eyes].
  • I was like, who does she think she is?
Sometimes used to introduce non-verbal quotations. For instance, facial expressions, or even miming whole-body actions (tripping, walking into something) by use of hand gestures.
See Golato (2000) for a similar quotative in German.

As a hedge

Like can be used to indicate that the following phrase will be an approximation or exaggeration, or that the following words may not be quite right, but are close enough. Examples:
  • I have, like, no money.
  • The restaurant is, like, five miles from here.

As a discourse particle or interjection

Like can also be used in much the same way as um... It has become a trend among North American teenagers to use the word like in this way.(see Valspeak, discourse marker, and speech disfluency):
  • I, like, don't know what to do.
It is also becoming more often used (Northern England and Hiberno-English in particular) at the end of a sentence, as an alternative to you know:
  • I didn't say, like, anything.
Use of "like" as a filler is a fairly old practice in Welsh English.
See Fleischman (1998) for a similar discourse particle in French.

As a way to use an onomatopoeia as a verb

For example, "It was like, boom!" can be substituted for "It exploded!"
This usage is often expressed with exuberance, extremely casual, and combined with non-verbal elements.


  • Andersen, Gisle; (1998). The pragmatic marker like from a relevance-theoretic perspective. In A. H. Jucker & Y. Ziv (Eds.) Discourse markers: Descriptions and theory (pp. 147-70). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Andersen, Gisle; (2000). The role of the pragmatic marker like in utterance interpretation. In G. Andersen & T. Fretheim (Ed.), Pragmatic markers and propositional attitude: Pragmatics and beyond (pp. 79). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Blyth, Carl, Jr.; Recktenwald, Sigrid; & Wang, Jenny. (1990). I'm like, 'say what?!': A new quotative in American oral narrative. American Speech, 65, 215-227.
  • Cukor-Avila, Patricia; (2002). She say, she go, she be like: Verbs of quotation over time in African American Vernacular English. American Speech, 77 (1), 3-31.
  • Dailey-O'Cain, Jennifer. (2000). The sociolinguistic distribution of and attitudes toward focuser like and quotative like. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 4, 60–80.
  • Ferrara, Kathleen; & Bell, Barbara. (1995). Sociolinguistic variation and discourse function of constructed dialogue introducers: The case of be+like. American Speech, 70, 265-289.
  • Fleischman, Suzanne. (1998). Des jumeaux du discours. La Linguistique, 34 (2), 31-47.
  • Golato, Andrea; (2000). An innovative German quotative for reporting on embodied actions: Und ich so/und er so 'and I’m like/and he’s like'. Journal of Pragmatics, 32, 29–54.
  • Jucker, Andreas H.; & Smith, Sara W. (1998). And people just you know like 'wow': Discourse markers as negotiating strategies. In A. H. Jucker & Y. Ziv (Eds.), Discourse markers: Descriptions and theory (pp. 171-201). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Miller, Jim; Weinert, Regina. (1995). The function of like in dialogue. Journal of Pragmatics, 23, 365-93.
  • Romaine, Suzanne; Lange, Deborah. (1991). The use of like as a marker of reported speech and thought: A case of grammaticalization in progress. American Speech, 66, 227-279.
  • Ross, John R.; & Cooper, William E. (1979). Like syntax. In W. E. Cooper & E. C. T. Walker (Eds.), Sentence processing: Psycholinguistic studies presented to Merrill Garrett (pp. 343-418). New York: Erlbaum Associates.
  • Schourup, L. (1985). Common discourse particles: "Like", "well", "y'know". New York: Garland.
  • Siegel, Muffy E. A. (2002). Like: The discourse particle and semantics. Journal of Semantics, 19 (1), 35-71.
  • Taglimonte, Sali; & Hudson, Rachel. (1999). Be like et al. beyond America: The quotative system in British and Canadian youth. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 3 (2), 147-172.
  • Underhill, Robert; (1988). Like is like, focus. American Speech, 63, 234-246.
like in Simple English: Like
like in Thai: ชอบ

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Amor, Christian love, Eros, Platonic love, admiration, admire, adoration, adore, adulate, affection, after this fashion, agape, agnate, aim at, akin, alike, all one, all the same, allied, ally, along these lines, alter ego, analogon, analogous, analogue, aped, appreciate, approve, approve of, approximate, approximating, approximative, ardency, ardor, as, as if, as though, ask, associate, at par, at what price, attachment, au pair, bask in, be desirous of, be fond of, be partial to, be pleased with, bodily love, brother, brotherly love, burn with love, by what mode, by what name, care for, caritas, charity, choose, close, close copy, close match, close to, coequal, coextensive, cognate, commensurate, companion, comparable, compeer, complement, comprehend, congenator, congener, conjugal love, consimilar, consonant, consubstantial, coordinate, copied, correlate, correlative, correspondent, corresponding, correspondingly, counterfeit, counterpart, delight in, derive pleasure from, desiderate, desire, devotion, devour, dig, disposed to, ditto, dote on, dote upon, drawn, duplicate, eat up, either, elect, endorse, enjoy, equal, equal to, equalized, equipollent, equivalent, ersatz, esteem, even, even stephen, exactly alike, faithful love, fake, fancy, favor, favoring, feast on, fellow, fervor, fifty-fifty, flame, following, fondness, for example, for instance, freak out on, free love, free-lovism, get high on, gloat over, go, go for, groove on, half-and-half, have designs on, have eyes for, have it bad, heart, hero worship, homogeneous, homologous, homoousian, how, identic, identical, identically, idolatry, idolism, idolization, image, imitated, imitation, in kind, in like manner, in other words, in such wise, in that way, in this way, in what way, indistinguishable, indulge in, just alike, kindred spirit, knotted, lasciviousness, level, libido, like that, like this, likeness, likes, likewise, liking, love, lovemaking, lust, lust after, luxuriate in, married love, match, mate, mimicked, mind, mock, namely, near, near duplicate, nearly reproduced, nip and tuck, not unlike, obverse, of that ilk, on a footing, on a level, on a par, on even ground, one, opposite number, par, parallel, partiality, passion, peer, pendant, phony, physical love, picture, please, popular regard, popularity, predilection, prefer, preference, proportionate, proximate, quits, reciprocal, regard, rejoice in, relatable, related, relish, resembling, respect, revel in, riot in, rival, same, savor, second self, select, selfsame, sentiment, sex, sexual love, shine, similar, similarly, similitude, simulacrum, simulated, sister, smack the lips, smacking of, so, something like, soul mate, spiritual love, square, stalemated, such, suchlike, suggestive of, swim in, synthetic, take pleasure in, take to, tally, taste, tender feeling, tender passion, the like of, the likes of, thus, thus and so, tied, to wit, truelove, twin, understand, undifferenced, undifferent, undifferentiated, uniform, uniform with, uxoriousness, wallow in, want, weakness, wish, wish to goodness, wish very much, without difference, without distinction, worship, would fain do, yearning
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