Peck

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Tatillon13

Member
French
Hi everyone,

I'm having trouble using the word "peck" correctly.
I believe the following sentence is correct and is the most commonly used:
He gave her a peck on the cheek.

But I was wondering if one could use "peck" as a verb in order to avoid the verb to give. For instance, would the following sentence be grammatically correct, if not very common?
He pecked her on the cheek.
or
He pecked her cheek.
(Somehow the latter doesn't sound right, as if he were actually pecking her cheek like a bird would...)

Finally, I was wondering, since one can send or blow a kiss to someone, can one also send or blow a peck...?
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello Tatillon,

    To peck is to make a stabbing motion with one's beak. It's very commonly used of chickens picking up bits of grain.

    We talk of people pecking at their food, when they don't seem to be eating with much relish.

    A kiss which is a peck on the cheek is a very rapid kiss, which doesn't seem to wish to prolong contact.

    A peck isn't automatically a kiss, so don't send or blow pecks at people unless you've developed private sense of the word with them.

    I wouldn't peck people's cheeks either, because that sounds painful.

    A peck on the cheek is quite usual for a very rapid kiss.
     

    Tatillon13

    Member
    French
    Haha, got it. So should I drop the 'He pecked her on the cheek' as well, and just stick with 'to give sb a peck on the cheek'?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I was surprised to find that the verb 'peck' is in quite common use in this sense in books and on the Internet: I would only say 'gave her a peck on the cheek', as to me 'pecked her on the cheek' sounds too much like what a bird does, and 'pecked her cheek' sounds even more like it. But Google Books and Ngram Viewer show that all three expressions are used, in comparable numbers.
     

    Tatillon13

    Member
    French
    Indeed, hence my confusion. I checked Gooble Books and Ngram Viewer as well, and it does sound a bit weird to me too. But since I am not a native speaker, I thought I should ask the question here. The important part of your answer being that you were surprised to find out that all three expressions are used ;) I guess I'll just avoid using it as a verb when I'm not referring to a bird.
     
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