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Last updated at 15:09 BST, Friday, 26 August 2011

To nick

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This woman has been nicked for nicking something. Listen to The English We Speak to find out about the different uses of the phrase 'to nick'.

A woman being arrested by the police

This woman has been nicked!

The script for this programme

Helen: Hello, and welcome to The English We Speak. My name is Helen.

Rob: And I'm Rob.

Helen: I saw you looking for your headphones earlier; did you find them?

Rob: No, Helen. I looked for them everywhere. Someone must have nicked them.

Helen: Nicked them? What do you mean?

Rob: Oh, sorry, what I mean is someone stole my headphones. To nick something means to steal something.

Helen: That's terrible. But how is it spelt?

Rob: It's spelt N.I.C.K. nick, to nick something.

Helen: My son's best friend is called Nick. It's the same spelling, isn't it?

Rob: It is, but not the same meaning. Here the word 'nick' is a verb and it's British slang too.

Helen: Let's hear a couple of examples. What items have been stolen?

Man: Someone nicked my bike this morning.

Lady: Oh, no. Did you report it to the police?

Man: Yes, I did.

Man 1: Where are the chocolate biscuits I was saving? I am sure I saw them yesterday.

Man 2: Sorry, I don't know. Blame Dave, he's always nicking things.

Rob: So, one of them lost a bike and the other one lost his chocolate biscuits.

Helen: Unlucky chaps. Maybe the police can help them.

Rob: Yes. The police can definitely help them by nicking those petty thieves.

Helen: That's very confusing. The police can nick too? They can steal?

Rob: No, no, no, no. The police can't nick things from people. But when they arrest someone, we can say the person is nicked. It means they're arrested by the police.

Woman: Have you heard from Inspector James?

Man: No. He's working on a big case. I think they have just nicked the main suspect!

Helen: So if a criminal is caught by the police, then we can say he's nicked.

Rob: That's right. Let's go over the two meanings of the verb 'to nick'. First, if something is nicked, it means it's stolen.

Helen: Like my pen got nicked.

Rob: Yes, that's right. But if a person gets nicked, we mean he's arrested by the police.

Helen: A comedian got nicked for throwing a pie at Rupert Murdoch.

Rob: Yes, he did. Helen, you've got it. Just remember it's not a formal expression.

Helen: Thank you. I'll keep that in mind. Bye for now.

Rob: Bye!

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