"Well, if that don't lick everything!"

This sentence is from The Invisible Man.

The IVM did someting rude and one of the crowd who gathered to confront him said this. If more explanation is needed, I will gradly add more.

  • See lick²: "overcome" — or, perhaps, surpass here.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 21, 2017 at 8:27
  • 1
    You should add more details about the context. At first glance it looks like it means the same as “Well, if that doesn't just take the cake!”, which is a more common idiom to indicate outrage at something you find singularly unacceptable. It's akin to saying, “Well, if that isn't just the rudest thing I've seen in a long time!”, but in a less direct manner. Mar 21, 2017 at 8:28

2 Answers 2


Lick in this context means to easily beat or overcome everything. It's considered informal speech, in this case that's illustrated by use of don't instead of a more formal doesn't.



It is OED, sense 6b of the verb to lick.

6b To overcome, get the better of; to excel, surpass. it licks me: I cannot explain it. Also to lick into fits: to defeat thoroughly.>

1800 in Spirit of Public Jrnls. (1801) 4 232 By Dane, Saxon, or Pict We had never been lick'd Had we stuck to the king of the island.

1836 F. B. Head Let. in S. Smiles Publisher & Friends (1891) II. xxxi. 366, I believe we shall lick the radicals.

1847 T. De Quincey Milton v. Southey & Landor in Tait's Edinb. Mag. Apr. 253/2 Greece was..proud..of having licked him [sc. an enemy].

1879 E. Walford Londoniana I. 37 If we have a war and beat Russia or lick Abyssinia into fits.

1889 ‘R. Boldrewood’ Robbery under Arms xxiv, It licked me to think it had been hid away all the time.

1890 ‘R. Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer (1891) 195 As a seller of unparalleled generosity, we can't be licked.

1900 Speaker 8 Sept. 618 We must either lick and rule these savages or run away.

absol. 1861 T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxf. I. xii. 228, I believe that a gentleman will always lick in a fair fight.

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