1. Nautical.
    1. a floorlike surface wholly or partially occupying one level of a hull, superstructure, or deckhouse, generally cambered, and often serving as a member for strengthening the structure of a vessel.
    2. the space between such a surface and the next such surface above: Our stateroom was on B deck.
  2. any open platform suggesting an exposed deck of a ship.
  3. an open, unroofed porch or platform extending from a house or other building.Compare sun deck.
  4. any level, tier, or vertical section, as of a structure or machine.
  5. flight deck(def 2).
  6. a flat or nearly flat watertight surface, as at the top of a French roof.
  7. a floor or roof surface composed of decking units.
  8. Meteorology. cloud deck. See cloud layer.
  9. Slang. a small packet of a narcotic, especially heroin.
  10. a pack of playing cards.
  11. Printing. bank3(def 8).
  12. Also called rear deck. the cover of a space behind the backseat of an automobile or the space itself.
  13. Library Science. a level of book shelving and associated facilities in the stacks of a library, as one of a series of floors or tiers.
  14. cutter deck.
  15. a cassette deck or tape deck.


  1. Civil Engineering. (of a bridge truss) having a deck or floor upon or above the structure.Compare through(def 22).

verb (used with object)

  1. to clothe or attire (people) or array (rooms, houses, etc.) in something ornamental or decorative (often followed by out): We were all decked out in our Sunday best. The church was decked with holly for the holiday season.
  2. to furnish with a deck.
  3. Informal. to knock down; floor: The champion decked the challenger in the first round.

  1. clear the decks,
    1. to prepare for combat, as by removing all unnecessary gear.
    2. to prepare for some activity or work, as by getting rid of hindrances.
  2. hit the deck, Slang.
    1. rise from bed.
    2. to fall, drop, or be knocked to the ground or floor.
  3. on deck,
    1. at bat; waiting one’s turn to bat.
    2. in line; coming up; scheduled.
    3. Informal.prepared to act or work; ready.
  4. play with/have a full deck, Slang. to be sane, rational, or reasonably intelligent: Whoever dreamed up this scheme wasn’t playing with a full deck.
  5. stack the deck. stack(def 24).


  1. nautical any of various platforms built into a vessela promenade deck; the poop deck
  2. a similar floor or platform, as in a bus
    1. the horizontal platform that supports the turntable and pick-up of a record player
    2. See tape deck
  3. mainly US a pack of playing cards
  4. Also called: pack computing obsolete a collection of punched cards relevant to a particular program
  5. a raised wooden platform built in a garden to provide a seating area
  6. clear the decks informal to prepare for action, as by removing obstacles from a field of activity or combat
  7. hit the deck informal
    1. to fall to the floor or ground, esp in order to avoid injury
    2. to prepare for action
    3. to get out of bed

verb (tr)

  1. (often foll by out) to dress or decorate
  2. to build a deck on (a vessel)
  3. slang to knock (a person) to the floor or ground

“covering over part of a ship,” mid-15c., perhaps a shortening of Middle Low German verdeck (or a related North Sea Germanic word), a nautical word, from ver- “fore” + decken “to cover, put under roof,” from Proto-Germanic *thackjam (related to thatch, q.v.).

Sense extended early in English from “covering” to “platform of a ship.” “Pack of cards” is 1590s, perhaps because they were stacked like decks of a ship. Deck chair (1884) so called because they were used on ocean liners. Tape deck (1949) is in reference to the flat surface of old reel-to-reel tape recorders.


“adorn” (as in deck the halls), early 15c., from Middle Dutch dekken “to cover,” from the same Germanic root as deck (n.). Meaning “to cover” is from 1510s in English. Replaced Old English þeccan. Related: Decked; decking.


“knock down,” c.1953, probably from deck (n.) on the notion of laying someone out on the deck. Related: Decked; decking.

In addition to the idiom beginning with deck

  • deck out

also see:

  • clear the decks
  • hit the deck
  • on deck
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