ic·​tus ˈik-təs How to pronounce ictus (audio)
: the recurring stress or beat in a rhythmic or metrical series of sounds

Word History


borrowed from Latin, "stroke, blow, beat (in music or metrics)," from ic-, variant stem of īcere "to strike with a weapon, smite, affect strongly" (perhaps going back to Indo-European *h2i-h2iḱ-é-, reduplicated present stem from a verbal base *h2ei̯ḱ- "to run through (with something pointed), spear") + -tus, suffix of action nouns

Note: For nominal derivatives of *h2ei̯ḱ- see etymology at aichmophobia. If such a verbal base exists, the only evidence for its survival in a verb would be Latin īcere (assuming the correctness of the etymology).

First Known Use

1752, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ictus was in 1752

Dictionary Entries Near ictus

Cite this Entry

“Ictus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ictus. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


ic·​tus ˈik-təs How to pronounce ictus (audio)
: a beat or pulsation especially of the heart
: a sudden attack or seizure especially of stroke
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!