\ˈtik \

Definition of tic 

1 : local and habitual spasmodic motion of particular muscles especially of the face : twitching

2 : a frequent usually unconscious quirk of behavior or speech "you know" is a verbal tic

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Examples of tic in a Sentence

The verbal tic “you know” often occurs in her speech. constantly playing with her hair is one of her more annoying tics

Recent Examples on the Web

Again and again, they are told that vocal qualities and tics like higher pitch, upspeak, and vocal fry — which are usually associated with women — are worthy of condescension and invalidating to the speaker. Laura Hudson, The Verge, "Star Wars voice actress mocks Christine Blasey Ford’s voice during Kavanaugh testimony," 27 Sep. 2018 The two women watch a television news report about a group of 18 girls in the same LeRoy where Jell-O had been founded who fell victim in 2011 to debilitating tics and twitches. Moira Hodgson, WSJ, "‘Jell-O Girls’ Review: They Broke the Mold," 13 Sep. 2018 Not only did that not work to quell the chatter, but the language of the tweet — which mirrored President Trump's rhetorical tics — kicked off a new round of speculation about whether it had been written by her husband or someone who writes for him. Jonathan Allen /, NBC News, "Why Melania Trump's vanishing act matters," 4 June 2018 Stories of actors with preening egos, bad tempers, or eccentric performance tics are part of many a Hollywood legend. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Jason Bateman’s Tired Defense of Jeffrey Tambor," 24 May 2018 The medicine is also used to control tics and vocal outbursts in patients with Tourette's syndrome and treat behavioral problems in children with severe conduct disorders. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "A child took some psychiatric drugs on his own. And 470,000 drug packs got recalled," 8 July 2018 The lyrics themselves aren’t particularly notable, but Ty’s vocal tics reveal a penchant for studious melodrama. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Ty Dolla $ign Isn’t Just a Feature Artist, He’s a Star," 2 July 2018 Trump does not have a clever strategy behind this new rhetorical tic. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Calls His Supporters ‘Elite,’ Doesn’t Understand How Populism Works," 28 June 2018 Zay introduces new stylistic tics, mostly referencing the flashy energy of early-2000s ATL rap into his beats, and Future consumes them effortlessly and adjusts on the fly. Will Schube, Billboard, "Zaytoven and Future Are Just Like Bruddas on 'Beast Mode 2'," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tic.' 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 tic

circa 1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tic


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Statistics for tic

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tic

The first known use of tic was circa 1834

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More Definitions for tic



English Language Learners Definition of tic

: a small repeated movement of a muscle especially in the face that cannot be controlled

: a word or phrase that someone frequently says or an action that someone frequently does without intending to


\ˈtik \

Medical Definition of tic 

1 : local and habitual spasmodic motion of particular muscles especially of the face : twitching

2 : a habitual usually unconscious quirk of behavior or speech

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More from Merriam-Webster on tic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tic

Spanish Central: Translation of tic

Nglish: Translation of tic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tic

Comments on tic

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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