Definition of tic in US English:



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

    • ‘Why do some of these tics of the diaphragm last so long?’
    • ‘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 physicians have heard of the (occasionally obscene) speech tics that can occur with Tourette's syndrome, but many other tics are more common.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most facial tics or twitching are ‘idiopathic, ‘a term that means that no one knows what causes them.’’
    • ‘Most children with tics can lead normal lives, and the tics themselves usually slow down in teenage years.’
    • ‘Night terrors or persistent recurring bad dreams, physiological illnesses, or persistent tics may warrant professional intervention.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Patients may be unaware of vocal tics, but family members may find the incessant noises grating.’
    • ‘Provide a quiet place for student when tics are severe.’
    • ‘The prolonged use of major tranquillizers can produce movement disorders, including tremors, tics, and smacking of the lips.’
    • ‘Right now a spasmodic tic in his leg at the wrong time could get him killed.’
    • ‘Studies show that it is more effective in reducing motor tics than reducing vocal tics.’
    • ‘In many patients there appears to be a genetic predisposition to the illness because other family members also may have tics, he says.’
    • ‘This is exemplified by the case of a patient who had a facial tic and eczema around the mouth.’
    • ‘Dr Johnson was overweight and suffered from chronic bronchitis, gout and dropsy, as well as nervous tics and compulsive gesticulations.’
    • ‘The psychiatrist wants to try an anti-psychotic medicine used to treat tics.’
    • ‘In contrast, complex motor tics usually involve more muscle groups.’
    • ‘Other children get stomach aches, headaches, heart palpitations or muscle tics.’
    twitch, spasm, jerk, convulsion, contraction, tremor, tremble
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    1. 1.1 An 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’
      • ‘The actor's tics and idiosyncrasies are in full flower here.’
      • ‘This story in the Washington Post, however, manages to exhibit almost every tic that Chomsky would identify as corporate propaganda.’
      • ‘Kerry is displaying his most annoying tic: insisting that he's being clear and precise when he's fuzzing over everything.’
      • ‘Just going by a vaguely detected linguistic tic, I think this particular leader was written by the Guardian's timid political editor.’
      • ‘You thought that his cannibalism was some sort of weird tic, something he tried struggling with but just ended up accepting.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As I watched, he started to display another characteristic tic - smiling and giving her a lazy wink.’
      • ‘One stylistic tic Macklin practices in many poems is the refusal to choose the precise word she wants, yoking alternatives with a slash.’
      • ‘Bob Martin invests his characters with wonderful tics, gestures and mannerisms and makes his knife-sharp comedic timing feel effortless.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But what of other sports stars and their sporting tics, traits and peculiarities?’
      • ‘It's a stylistic tic that characterises much of his work.’
      • ‘But on reflection, and a bit of research, it appears to be more of an unconscious verbal tic than a conscious strategy.’
      • ‘Dustin Hoffman has a lot of fun as the hyperactive Mr Big - and gets to try on a lot of character tics for size.’
      • ‘In a strange turn of events, you find yourself not as into Leo's usual tics: his unhinged vocals and spasmodic guitar.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      idiosyncrasy, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, foible, whim, whimsy, notion, conceit, vagary, caprice, fancy, kink, crotchet, mannerism, habit, characteristic, trait, feature, obsession, fad
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Early 19th century: from French, from Italian ticchio.