Definition of hiccup in US English:


(also hiccough)


  • 1An involuntary spasm of the diaphragm and respiratory organs, with a sudden closure of the glottis and a characteristic sound like that of a cough.

    • ‘Other medications were tried but did not stop the hiccups.’
    • ‘The glottis suddenly closes and stops the inflow of air resulting in the sound of a hiccup.’
    • ‘It was difficult to breathe inbetween his spasms of hiccups and tears.’
    • ‘Forget breathing into a paper bag, gulping down a glass of water or having someone scare the living daylights out of you to cure a case of hiccups.’
    • ‘Chewing the gum is certainly less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but nicotine can be irritating to the digestive tract, causing hiccups, heartburn and nausea.’
    • ‘Everyday hiccups don't need medical treatment, as they will go away on their own.’
    • ‘He treated a patient in the emergency room who suffered from hiccups every two seconds for three days.’
    • ‘I gulped it down gladly, and the hiccups slowed to a stop.’
    • ‘I had to laugh when I saw your article on curing hiccups with a spoonful of sugar.’
    • ‘I had a normal pregnancy with no complications except that I got the hiccups a lot.’
    • ‘She let out a watery little hiccough that sounded quite a bit like a sob.’
    • ‘When Mia got over-excited and giddy she would get hiccups and John said it was testimony to her character that she had hiccups nearly every day.’
    • ‘A giggle, more a hiccup in sound than anything, emerged from her pursed lips.’
    • ‘Persistent hiccups (lasting for more than 48 hours) is rare, but may be caused by an underlying disease.’
    • ‘For example, there are over 100 different cures for hiccups, in both the medical and lay literature.’
    • ‘Slowly my sobs subsided and all that was left was my hiccups which sounded off every once and a while.’
    • ‘Maria tried to hold her tears in, but they escaped through strangled hiccups, and small shudders.’
    • ‘A case report published in Southern Medical Journal shows that lidocaine may be effective in treating chronic, intractable hiccups.’
    • ‘He let loose the loudest hiccup I'd ever heard and took another swig of something or other from his canteen.’
    • ‘The GP will examine you and look particularly for signs of the serious conditions that can cause persistent hiccups, such as an infection of the diaphragm.’
    fluctuation, flutter, waver, flicker, falter, quiver, tremor, tremble
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1hiccups An attack of hiccups occurring repeatedly for some time.
      ‘he got the hiccups’
    2. 1.2 A temporary or minor difficulty or setback.
      ‘just a little hiccup in our usual wonderful service’
      • ‘There were the usual hiccups that come with any new business.’
      • ‘As it happens, the setback turned out to be the only hiccup in the 14 race series, and Andy made an astonishing recovery to claim 11 victories in his last 12 race meetings.’
      • ‘Despite a few hiccups along the way, the verdict from teachers and pupils is that it has been worth the wait!’
      • ‘This small hiccup in the otherwise smooth functioning of the hospital was quickly forgotten.’
      • ‘Despite that hiccup the fact remains that Denmark have a genuinely decent side.’
      • ‘They should carry out a simple risk analysis, looking at the big issues that can threaten a project as well as the minor hiccups that can occur.’
      • ‘Other than that hiccup against Pittsburgh, he has been on fire since his last three games of 2004.’
      • ‘Of course, there could be hiccups along the way.’
      • ‘The only hiccup is the sudden loss of batting form of vice-captain Ryan Watson.’
      • ‘Overall it was a very successful day as everything went well with only a few minor hiccups and the weather was ideal.’
      • ‘However, all sides are insisting this is a temporary hiccup that can be overcome.’
      • ‘And while they've had a hiccup or two along the way, the fact is that they remain firmly on course to lift the title.’
      • ‘But despite impressive growth over the last ten years, it has experienced a few hiccups along the way and is currently going through a difficult period.’
      • ‘Jake is back on his feet and is doing well apart from a couple of minor hiccups.’
      • ‘Despite the odd few hiccups the ban has been a huge success and I've no doubt that it will have a long-term impact on our country's health.’
      • ‘The show was not without a few hiccups and it took a while for the sound technician to tweak the sound to the performer's satisfaction.’
      • ‘Going by the UK's progress, there could be a few hiccups along the way.’
      • ‘And, similar to the video, the audio suffers from a few hiccups.’
      • ‘The data collection for the main study itself went smoothly, with only very minor local hiccups.’
      • ‘Despite a few minor hiccups the traffic flowed in and out of the site with ease.’
      difficulty, issue, trouble, worry, complication, difficult situation, mess, muddle, mix-up
      View synonyms


[no object]
  • Suffer from or make the sound of a hiccup or series of hiccups.

    • ‘Her dark eyes are wide with childish terror, and she hiccups so dramatically that, at first, she cannot speak at all.’
    • ‘Gradually, Adriana started to calm down until she was hiccuping softly with her hands in her lap.’
    • ‘My eyes stung brutally and I started to hiccup.’
    • ‘I hugged her and soothed her back as she began hiccuping and sobbing.’
    • ‘He went to the couch and collapsed, hiccuping.’
    • ‘I sobbed, uncontrollably, starting to shake and hiccup I was crying so much.’
    • ‘Mary began to hiccup, her efforts at trying to not cry getting the best of her.’
    • ‘The guard, obviously drunk, stumbled over, hiccuping.’
    • ‘She sobbed so hard that her chest hurt and she began to hiccup.’
    • ‘The baby had clearly been crying, but was now calm, hiccuping around the chubby thumb he had placed in his mouth.’
    • ‘I slowly calmed down until I was only hiccuping.’
    • ‘Later there was a telephone call, Marya hiccuping through tears and speaking in anxious half-Polish phrases.’
    • ‘The story Ben tells me is that he walked me back, me hiccuping and gagging from time to time, until we got to his dorm.’
    • ‘My face red and blotchy, I leaned back in the seat, hiccuping now from trying to slow down the tears.’
    • ‘Caitlin quietly obliged, hiccuping as she went.’
    • ‘I breathed irregularly, occasionally hiccuping in my attempts to stop crying.’
    • ‘She hiccuped a bit and her voice sounded almost slurred.’
    • ‘I sat on the tarnished blue tiles of the bathroom floor, hiccuping, ‘I have to tell you something, Con,’ I murmured, my voice scratchy.’
    • ‘I stopped hiccuping and reached for the punch.’
    • ‘Soon, my tears were gone and I was just hiccuping and sniffling.’


Late 16th century: imitative; the form hiccough arose by association with cough.