ici·​cle | \ ˈī-ˌsi-kəl How to pronounce icicle (audio) \

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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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 The icicle lights of the past have received an upgrade through this Toodour set. Carly Totten, Better Homes & Gardens, 29 Sep. 2021 Your standard icicle is also very smooth and slippery, which could present an additional problem for whoever was trying to grip it to deliver a killing blow. James Grebey, Vulture, 19 Apr. 2021 Some birds clung to the branches, or the icicle itself, reaching out to drink. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, 4 Apr. 2021 Thanks to recent temperatures in the 50s, the formerly frigid beast, with its gaping mouth and spiky icicle teeth, has been reduced to a pile of benign slush. Rich Heileman, cleveland, 26 Feb. 2021 Voigt used that hole to string an electrical cord with a red light to show off the creature’s icicle teeth and blood-red maw. cleveland, 22 Feb. 2021 Weeks earlier, children had gathered after the neighborhood erected the 30-foot tree in Washington Park and decorated it with icicle lights and red and white ornaments. Kelli Smith, chicagotribune.com, 31 Dec. 2020 There’s nothing worse than feeling like a human icicle after a deep winter run. Claire Tighe, NBC News, 17 Dec. 2020 Harold Cain stood on the fringes of a slender sweep of grass in Washington Park, counting the minutes until the 30-foot Christmas tree in front of him would gleam with the hundreds of icicle lights woven around its branches. Alice Yin, chicagotribune.com, 12 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for icicle

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

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Cite this Entry

“Icicle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/icicle. Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce icicle (audio) \

Kids Definition of icicle

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

More from Merriam-Webster on icicle

Nglish: Translation of icicle for Spanish Speakers


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