Definition of tic in English:



  • 1A habitual spasmodic contraction of the muscles, most often in the face.

    • ‘Night terrors or persistent recurring bad dreams, physiological illnesses, or persistent tics may warrant professional intervention.’
    • ‘Why do some of these tics of the diaphragm last so long?’
    • ‘Others discovered that after months or years of treatment they developed uncontrollable muscle twitches or tics that were often irreversible, even after stopping the drugs.’
    • ‘He added that pain, particularly in the shoulders, arms and eyes, is associated with tics, either from the tics themselves or efforts to suppress them.’
    • ‘Most children with tics can lead normal lives, and the tics themselves usually slow down in teenage years.’
    • ‘The psychiatrist wants to try an anti-psychotic medicine used to treat tics.’
    • ‘Right now a spasmodic tic in his leg at the wrong time could get him killed.’
    • ‘Dr Johnson was overweight and suffered from chronic bronchitis, gout and dropsy, as well as nervous tics and compulsive gesticulations.’
    • ‘The prolonged use of major tranquillizers can produce movement disorders, including tremors, tics, and smacking of the lips.’
    • ‘In many patients there appears to be a genetic predisposition to the illness because other family members also may have tics, he says.’
    • ‘Most physicians have heard of the (occasionally obscene) speech tics that can occur with Tourette's syndrome, but many other tics are more common.’
    • ‘Patients may be unaware of vocal tics, but family members may find the incessant noises grating.’
    • ‘In contrast, complex motor tics usually involve more muscle groups.’
    • ‘Provide a quiet place for student when tics are severe.’
    • ‘This is exemplified by the case of a patient who had a facial tic and eczema around the mouth.’
    • ‘Other children get stomach aches, headaches, heart palpitations or muscle tics.’
    • ‘Studies show that it is more effective in reducing motor tics than reducing vocal tics.’
    • ‘With great effort and concentration, people with Tourette syndrome can sometimes suppress their tics, or at least postpone them until they can be expressed in a more convenient time and place.’
    • ‘Most facial tics or twitching are ‘idiopathic, ‘a term that means that no one knows what causes them.’’
    • ‘David Arrow plays Hardy as an utterly convincing mass of tics and twitches; his portrayal suggests a man who can't get comfortable in his own skin.’
    twitch, spasm, jerk, convulsion, contraction, tremor, tremble
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An idiosyncratic and habitual feature of a person's behavior.
      ‘I began with the kind of generalization that was one of my primary tics as a writer’
      • ‘You thought that his cannibalism was some sort of weird tic, something he tried struggling with but just ended up accepting.’
      • ‘That unfortunate verbal tic doesn't invite confidence, but I would willingly defend the bulk of what Pilger has had to say in recent years.’
      • ‘This story in the Washington Post, however, manages to exhibit almost every tic that Chomsky would identify as corporate propaganda.’
      • ‘Bob Martin invests his characters with wonderful tics, gestures and mannerisms and makes his knife-sharp comedic timing feel effortless.’
      • ‘One stylistic tic Macklin practices in many poems is the refusal to choose the precise word she wants, yoking alternatives with a slash.’
      • ‘The actor's tics and idiosyncrasies are in full flower here.’
      • ‘On the whole, I think he's doing a lot that I personally like in this book, but there is one particular tic I really hate.’
      • ‘But on reflection, and a bit of research, it appears to be more of an unconscious verbal tic than a conscious strategy.’
      • ‘A new media tic - likening George W. Bush to Franklin D. Roosevelt - is already so widespread that it's apt to become a conditioned reflex of American journalism.’
      • ‘The California election has been designated by the media as an official instrument for measuring just about every tic and nuance of the American political landscape.’
      • ‘Just going by a vaguely detected linguistic tic, I think this particular leader was written by the Guardian's timid political editor.’
      • ‘But what of other sports stars and their sporting tics, traits and peculiarities?’
      • ‘It's a stylistic tic that characterises much of his work.’
      • ‘Oddly, the quality of the recording is stellar in contrast to the rest of the album's material, and every vocal tic and nuance is instantly palpable.’
      • ‘As he hops between them - in what may be the band's most annoying tic - he makes a sound somewhere between a yodel and a hiccup.’
      • ‘In a strange turn of events, you find yourself not as into Leo's usual tics: his unhinged vocals and spasmodic guitar.’
      • ‘Kerry is displaying his most annoying tic: insisting that he's being clear and precise when he's fuzzing over everything.’
      • ‘Dustin Hoffman has a lot of fun as the hyperactive Mr Big - and gets to try on a lot of character tics for size.’
      • ‘As I watched, he started to display another characteristic tic - smiling and giving her a lazy wink.’
      • ‘After sitting down to dinner in the East Village, a bunch of us pulled out our phones, which activity I've noticed is a kind of nerd group tic.’
      idiosyncrasy, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, foible, whim, whimsy, notion, conceit, vagary, caprice, fancy, kink, crotchet, mannerism, habit, characteristic, trait, feature, obsession, fad
      View synonyms


Early 19th century: from French, from Italian ticchio.