\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

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 Cousins will likely parade to the free-throw line next season, as defenses give fouls to prevent dunks set up by the Warriors’ tic-tac-toe passing. Ben Golliver, SI.com, "The DeMarcus Cousins Experience Isn’t for Everyone, but Warriors Are More Than Ready," 2 July 2018 There will also be old-fashioned carnival games, including ring toss, knock over the milk jar, bean bag tic-tac-toe, bowling and more. Emily Sorensen, Pomerado News, "Old-Fashioned Fourth of July offers patriotic fun," 29 June 2018 Robert Norman has all the tics of Spock — the tilt of the head, the flat inflection when speaking. Matthew J. Palm, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Jokes fly faster than warp factor 9 in 'Star Trek Abduction'," 1 June 2018 That understated poise, coupled with our odd cultural tic of equating everything Hawaiian with easygoing chillness, clouds our appreciation of the meticulous labor and thoughtful innovation behind every dish on the Liholiho menu. Ali Bouzari, SFChronicle.com, "Housemade: The magic of Liholiho Yacht Club," 22 June 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

5 Oct 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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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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