On ELU I found the following comments under a one-line answer (names have been omitted; emphasis mine):

A: While I agree with you, answers which just offer one man's opinion, and no data to back it up (e.g. nGrams or expert opinions or whatever) should be offered as comments, rather than answers proper. I didn't downvote you, btw.
B:... Nor I (one is enough here) but I've nicked @A's comment.

A's comment had three upvotes the last time I checked, so my supposition is that "I've nicked A's comment" is "I upvoted A's comment". However, "to nick" isn't defined in such terms in any dictionary I've checked. This is the most complete dictionary entry I've found for "to nick":

Nick (v):

  1. .
    1.1. To cut a nick or notch in.
    1.2. To cut into and wound slightly: A sliver of glass nicked my hand.
  2. To cut short; check: nicked an impulse to flee.
  3. Slang To cheat, especially by overcharging.
  4. Chiefly British Slang
    4.1. To steal.
    4.2. To arrest.
  5. informal (often foll by: off) to move or depart rapidly
  6. (Horse Training, Riding & Manège) to divide and reset (certain of the tail muscles of a horse) to give the tail a high carriage
  7. (tr) to guess, catch, etc, exactly
  8. (Agriculture) (intr) (of breeding stock) to mate satisfactorily
  9. nick someone for slang US and Canadian to defraud someone to the extent of

[The Free Dictionary]

I don't see how any of the definitions cited above fits the sentence given.

Is "to nick" being used figuratively? What does "I've nicked A's comment" mean?

  • 1
    The comment by B is here. I link to it because it is always better to see something in context, including the people, because that can help, if we happen to know whether A and/or B speaks AmE or BrE, etc. I don't think it can mean anything other than that "B" upvoted A's comment. But you are free to ask Edwin for clarification. Mar 21 '16 at 21:32
  • 3
    By the way, to me, an AmE speaker, nick as slang usually means to steal. Frankly, the usage of it in this type of context is not one I am familiar with. @EdwinAshworth If I guess, it is a sub definition of 1.1, to put a figurative notch on Dan's comment. Mar 21 '16 at 21:32
  • 1
    It looks like a typo to me - I think he meant "ticked @A's comment". An example might be "Just tick/check the box next to your name." If it's not a typo I would expect it to be "stolen" as in I liked the comment and decided to use it in my answer, but he doesn't have any other post there, so I think that's unlikely.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 21 '16 at 22:46
  • 1
    Well, there's convention and there's the colloquial English of various regions and the two don't always agree :) Ticked is very commonly used to mean "click a UI element with a mouse to enable it" and I think it is more likely to be used with comments because there's only two things to click, the uptick and the flag. If I clicked the flag, I would say I flagged the comment, but tick seems pretty natural for clicking the arrow to up-vote a comment/agree with a comment.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 21 '16 at 23:12
  • 1
    Ordinarily I would have said it certainly means "to steal", in the sense of "I 'borrowed' his comment for use elsewhere." But looking at it in context, I'm not really sure what he meant. It's possible it was a typo, or he was confused about what the word meant.
    – stangdon
    Mar 21 '16 at 23:34

I (native British English speaker) would definitely understand B's comment to mean option 4.1: person B stole @A's comment and passed it off as his own. Personally, I might have written 'I pinched @A's comment', but this would only start another thread as to whether the pinching is like pinching someone's finger, or another slang word.

It's interesting to see that 'nick' means both to steal and to arrest. If a criminal nicks something, then he stole it, whereas the police office will at some time nick the criminal. This gives a clue to the word's true meaning: to take something.

Of course, this kind of nicking has nothing whatsoever to do with knives.

  • And here's a wonderful opportunity to point out one of the many inconsistencies in English... "knick" would be highly appropriate as the word for what happens when you're careless with a "knife"... but no... not in English.
    – T.J.L.
    Mar 22 '16 at 12:58
  • From watching many episodes of A touch of Frost (UK detective show), it seems the nick means jail or police station; I'm not quite sure which. A look at Merriam Webster dictionary says it can mean either. Mar 22 '16 at 15:16
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    Fame at last. 'Nicked' here = 'purloined' / 'snaffled' / 'pinched'.... Sense 4.1 in the AHDEL list shown (though not attributed) above. The connotation is that I will not pass off A's comment as my own (hence the colloquial, quirky 'nicked' rather than 'stolen'), but, recognising it as a well-crafted close-vote comment, will re-use it (with proper attribution) when I feel it fits. Sadly, close-vote comments are often needed on ELU. Giving a quoted version adds a semblance of authority to the vote, and perhaps deflects some of the flak such votes can on occasion attract. / I've got lots. Mar 22 '16 at 20:40
  • @EdwinAshworth That makes it so much clearer. Thanks! (btw, I've nicked it too, and I'll probably be using it quite often on other SE sites)
    – Yay
    Mar 22 '16 at 23:19

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