Did you just win some money at the casino? You could say you “hit a lick” at the slots. This slang phrase has plenty of use in modern language, and its origin traces back more than 100-years.
In fact, you probably heard the use of “hit a lick” in some popular tracks from famous rappers like Gucci Mane, J. Cole, and Lil Yachty.
This post unpacks this idiom. We’ll look at its meaning, origin, and use in conversation.
Hit a Lick Meaning
The first use of the phrase “hit a lick” described a criminal that nets themselves a big “score.” To “hit” means to forcibly or non-forcibly take money from another person or entity, such as robbing a cash business or taxing a drug dealer.
The “lick” describes the money or reward for the actions of the criminal. However, as the decades went by, the phase adapted to mean receiving, earning, accumulating, or winning a large sum of money in a short period.
To hit a lick could mean winning the lottery, earning a fortune overnight in crypto trading, or winning a jackpot at a casino. According to language experts, the “lick” refers to the feeling of instant gratification a person receives from licking a lollipop or ice cream cone.
Hit a lick is a colloquial saying, and its suitable for use in modern language in various informal settings. The phrase is also interchangeable with others like “bust a lick” and “catch a lick.” However, we would not recommend the use of this term in professional language.
Hit a Lick Example Usage
“Natalie, I can’t believe it! While you were here losing money on playing tables, I won $10,000 on the slots! I hit a lick tonight! Let’s go celebrate.”
“I just won that contract at work today, honey; we hit a lick with this one.”
“Tom turns 21 on Friday, and he gets access to his trust account; he hit a lick with that.”
“Audrey hit a lick at work; she got a huge bonus this year.”
“I hit a lick at the racetrack today and won big while everyone else lost their money.”
Hit a Lick Origin
The earliest recorded use of the phrase traces back to a publication called “Wheel and Cycling Trade Review” in 1891. The journal uses the term “a hit and a lick,” with the language referring to giving something a try.
We also find the term in the Institution Quarterly journal from Illinois, published in 1920. In this publication, the phrase appears in the context of meaning a minor attempt at rejuvenation. The term seems to change in the early 1990s, with hip hop culture adapting it to “hit a lick” from “a hit and a lick.”
The rapper “Scarface” was officially the first to use “hit a lick” in a rap song, with the phrase appearing in one of the tracks on his album.
Phrases Similar to Hit a Lick
- To make a score.
- To hit it big.
- To hit the jackpot.
Phrases Opposite to Hit a Lick
- To take an L.
- To lose it all.
- To throw it all away.
What is the Correct Saying?
- Hit a lick.
- Hitting a lick.
- Hit the lick.
Ways People May Say Hit a Lick Incorrectly
People may use this idiom incorrectly, referring to the actual action of licking something. There is no licking involved; rather, the lick relates to a monetary or financial windfall. It is not appropriate language for professional situations.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Hit a Lick
You can use “hit a lick” in casual conversation with friends. Use the phrase to describe a lucky situation where you benefit financially.