ici·​cle | \ ˈī-ˌsi-kəl \

Definition of icicle

1 : a pendent mass of ice formed by the freezing of dripping water
2 : an emotionally cold person
3 : a long narrow strip (as of foil) used to decorate a Christmas tree

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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.

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

Aaron Judge and the Yankees were set to play a doubleheader against the Tigers, but the twinbill was pulled, with icicles all over Comerica Park. Jay Cohen, BostonGlobe.com, "Rain and frigid temperatures wipe out six more games," 16 Apr. 2018 By the time firefighters contained the blaze, the roof had collapsed, the grand oak staircase was reduced to kindling, and fat icicles hung like stalactites from the windows. Inga Saffron, Philly.com, "A tale of two historic Philadelphia buildings: One rises from the ashes. The other falls to the wrecking ball.," 12 July 2018 In the winter, Lake Michigan waves give the cliffs an icy bath, creating impressive white icicles along the rocks, much like at the Apostle Islands. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "5 places other than the ice caves to see ice formations in Wisconsin," 5 Feb. 2018 Schools across the city had water bubbling out of pipes, warped floors, icicles hanging from the outside of buildings. CBS News, "Furious parents flood Baltimore City school board meeting," 10 Jan. 2018 Meander through archways past towering formations filled with dangling icicles. Tiffany Thornton, USA TODAY, "Canada embraces winter with zany, cold-defying festivals," 2 Feb. 2018 Bright lights lead him home, his yard twinkling already with glittering snowflakes, gleaming icicles, hundreds of fireflies of light perched in every holly bush and tree branch. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Algren Award finalist: "Nothing Less Than 20,000 Watts" by Susan Finch," 2 June 2018 Come winter, if Lake Superior freezes enough, hikers trek to see the mainland caves draped in massive icicles. Chelsey Lewis, USA TODAY, "Seven natural wonders in Wisconsin," 16 Mar. 2018 The outlook at the end is dark, but soon enough Spring will come, and then maybe the threatening icicles will thaw and the buds of hope will push through. Sarah Begley, Time, "Ali Smith’s Winter Is Love in the Time of Brexit," 11 Jan. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of icicle

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for icicle

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

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Dictionary Entries near icicle






icing on the cake

icing station

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Time Traveler for icicle

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

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More Definitions for icicle



English Language Learners Definition of icicle

: a hanging piece of ice formed when water freezes as it drips down from something (such as a roof)


ici·​cle | \ ˈī-ˌsi-kəl \

Kids Definition of icicle

: a hanging piece of ice formed from dripping water as it freezes

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More from Merriam-Webster on icicle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with icicle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for icicle

Spanish Central: Translation of icicle

Nglish: Translation of icicle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on icicle

What made you want to look up icicle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to settle judicially or to act as judge

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