Etymology: Middle English, from Old English līcian; akin to Old English gelīc alike
Date: before 12th century
1. chiefly dialect to be suitable or agreeable to <I like onions but they don't like me> 2. a. to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in ; enjoy <likes baseball> b. to feel toward ; regard <how would you like a change> 3. to wish to have ; want <would like a drink> 4. to do well in <this plant likes dry soil> <my car does not like cold weather> intransitive verb 1. dialect approve 2. to feel inclined ; choose, prefer <leave any time you like> II. noun Date: 1851 1. liking, preference 2. something that one likes III. adjective Etymology: Middle English, alteration of ilich, from Old English gelīc like, alike, from ge-, associative prefix + līc body; akin to Old High German gilīh like, alike, Lithuanian lygus like — more at co- Date: 13th century 1. a. the same or nearly the same (as in appearance, character, or quantity) <suits of like design> — formerly used with as, unto, of <it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren — Hebrews 2:17(Authorized Version)> b. chiefly British closely resembling the subject or original <the portrait is very like> 2. likely <the importance of statistics as the one discipline like to give accuracy of mind — H. J. Laski> IV. preposition Date: 13th century 1. a. having the characteristics of ; similar to <his house is like a barn> <it's like when we were kids> b. typical of <was like him to do that> c. comparable to ; approximating <costs something like fifty cents> 2. in the manner of ; similarly to <acts like a fool> 3. as though there would be <looks like rain> 4. such as <a subject like physics> 5. — used to form intensive or ironic phrases <fought like hell> <like fun he did> <laughed like anything> V. noun Date: 13th century 1. a. one that is similar ; counterpart, equal <have…never seen the like before — Sir Winston Churchill> b. kind 4a — usually used with a preceding possessive <put him and his like to some job — J. R. R. Tolkien> 2. one of many that are similar to each other — used chiefly in proverbial expressions <like breeds like> VI. adverb Date: 14th century 1. archaic equally 2. likely, probably <you'll try it, some day, like enough — Mark Twain> 3. a. to some extent ; rather, altogether <saunter over nonchalantly like — Walter Karig> b. — used interjectionally in informal speech often to emphasize a word or phrase (as in “He was, like, gorgeous”) or for an apologetic, vague, or unassertive effect (as in “I need to, like, borrow some money”) 4. nearly ; approximately <the actual interest is more like 18 percent> — used interjectionally in informal speech with expressions of measurement <it was, like, five feet long> <goes there every day, like> VII. conjunction Date: 14th century 1. a. as if <middle-aged men who looked like they might be out for their one night of the year — Norman Mailer> b. — used in intensive phrases <drove like mad> <hurts like crazy> 2. in the same way that ; as <they raven down scenery like children do sweetmeats — John Keats> 3. a. in the way or manner that <the violin sounds like an old masterpiece should> <did it like you told me> b. — used interjectionally in informal speech often with the verb be to introduce a quotation, paraphrase, or thought expressed by or imputed to the subject of the verb, or with it's to report a generally held opinion <so I'm like, “Give me a break”> <it's like, “Who cares what he thinks?”> 4. such as <a bag like a doctor carries> <when your car has trouble — like when it won't start> — used interjectionally in informal speech <often stays up late, until like three in the morning> Usage: Like has been used as a conjunction since the 14th century. In the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries it was used in serious literature, but not often; in the 17th and 18th centuries it grew more frequent but less literary. It became markedly more frequent in literary use again in the 19th century. By mid-century it was coming under critical fire, but not from grammarians, oddly enough, who were wrangling over whether it could be called a preposition or not. There is no doubt that, after 600 years of use, conjunctive like is firmly established. It has been used by many prestigious literary figures of the past, though perhaps not in their most elevated works; in modern use it may be found in literature, journalism, and scholarly writing. While the present objection to it is perhaps more heated than rational, someone writing in a formal prose style may well prefer to use as, as if, such as, or an entirely different construction instead. VIII. verbal auxiliary or liked Date: 15th century chiefly dialect came near ; was near <so loud I like to fell out of bed — Helen Eustis>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.