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

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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.

Examples of icicle in a Sentence

his wife is such an icicle you're lucky to get so much as a greeting from her
Recent Examples on the Web If the team was playing poorly, the bar would dip and virtual icicles would hang off the thermometer. Bloomberg, The Mercury News, 1 July 2024 While beautiful, the icicles dripping from your roof may be a sign of damaging ice dams forming on the roof above. Amelia Benavides-Colón, Detroit Free Press, 24 Jan. 2024 Elsa loses control of her ice powers and freezes a room with jagged icicles as Anna, Hans and the Duke of Weselton watch in shock. Brady MacDonald, Orange County Register, 5 June 2024 In the winter, the rivers are frozen and the giant trees glisten with dagger-like icicles. Luke Abrahams, Travel + Leisure, 3 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for icicle 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'icicle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 14 Jul. 2024.

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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