Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


1. in the game of cricket, the set of three sticks that the bowler tries to hit with the ball

2.the area of ground between the two sets of wickets

3. a point that the bowler’s team scores when the batsman has to leave the field

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun wicket comes from the Old Northern French word ‘wiket’, the equivalent of the modern French ‘guichet’. It was first used in English in the 14th century to mean a small door or gate that was placed beside or in a larger one, for use when the larger one was shut. The cricketing meaning dates from the early 18th century.


The term wicket originally referred to small gate or door placed beside or within a larger one, for use when the large one is closed, or to any small gate used by pedestrians. This meaning persists today in the term wicket gate. A wicket in cricket consists of three upright sticks called stumps with two smaller pieces of wood called bails laid across the top of them. It presumably got its name from its resemblance to a small gate or entrance. The aim of the eleven batsmen in a team is to defend the wicket against the opposing team’s bowlers, who try to hit it and dislodge the bails. A player called a wicket keeper stands behind the wicket and tries to catch the ball. While one bowler at a time attacks the wicket, the remainder of his or her team act as fielders and try to catch the ball after the batsman has hit it; if one of them catches the ball after it has been struck but before it hits the ground, the batsman is out. If someone is on a sticky wicket they are in a difficult situation, a reference to the problems for players batting on a damp and soft pitch, also called a wicket (meaning 2 above).


“Language is a finite instrument crudely applied to an infinity of ideas, and one consequence of the failure to take account of this is that modern philosophy has made itself ridiculous by analysing such statements as, ‘This is a good bacon sandwich’, or, ‘Bedser had a good wicket’.”
(Tom Stoppard)

“The really great batsmen fall into two categories. One comes to the wicket saying to the bowlers ‘I am going to slaughter you’. The other comes to the wicket saying ‘You can’t get me out’.”
(Ben Travers)

Related words

boundary, crease, gully, outfield, pitch

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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