ici·​cle ˈī-ˌsi-kəl How to pronounce icicle (audio)
: a pendent mass of ice formed by the freezing of dripping water
: an emotionally cold person
: a long narrow strip (as of foil) used to decorate a Christmas tree

Did you know?

Old English gicel, meaning icicle, became Middle English ikyl or ikel and later modern English ickle, which survives as a dialect word in Yorkshire, England. The word for ice in Old English is is, and in a manuscript of about the year 1000 we find Latin stiria, “icicle,” glossed, somewhat redundantly, as ises gicel, that is, “an icicle of ice.” Some 300 years later, in Middle English, this became the compound known today as icicle, which means precisely what it did 1000 years ago.

Example Sentences

his wife is such an icicle you're lucky to get so much as a greeting from her
Recent Examples on the Web For a fun twist on traditional icicle lights, try this snowflake version that comes in a warm white light. Lesley Kennedy, CNN Underscored, 1 Dec. 2020 Not every icicle drop has the same length or number of lights, which contributes to the realistic look. Katie Begley, Peoplemag, 30 Nov. 2022 The apparatus turned about once every four minutes, ensuring that conditions were the same all around the icicle. Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 10 Mar. 2015 The scientists grew 237 icicles on an icicle growing machine with a slowly rotating dripper nozzle. Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 10 Mar. 2015 Looking for a unique alternative to the traditional icicle string lights? Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, 14 Dec. 2022 Lights on the Christmas tree are classic, of course, and for many the holidays can’t really begin until a stressful afternoon has been passed nailing up the icicle lights. Sunset Magazine, 10 Dec. 2022 Yes The varying lengths of these icicle lights give a realistic effect that will make your home look like a winter wonderland even if there's no snow on the horizon. Katie Begley, Peoplemag, 30 Nov. 2022 These icicle lights offer both warm and cool white options, and come with a remote for easily switching up your display. Popular Mechanics, 17 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'icicle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English isikel, from is ice + ikel icicle, from Old English gicel; akin to Old High German ihilla icicle, Middle Irish aig ice

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of icicle was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near icicle

Cite this Entry

“Icicle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/icicle. Accessed 23 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


ici·​cle ˈī-ˌsik-əl How to pronounce icicle (audio)
: a hanging mass of ice formed by the freezing of dripping water

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