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[stik-ee] /ˈstɪk i/
adjective, stickier, stickiest.
having the property of adhering, as glue; adhesive.
covered with adhesive or viscid matter:
sticky hands.
(of the weather or climate) hot and humid:
It was an unbearably sticky day.
requiring careful treatment; awkwardly difficult:
a rather sticky diplomatic problem; Breaking the news is going to be sticky.
Informal. unpleasant; unfortunate; nasty:
The villain of the story meets a sticky end.
noun, plural stickies.
one of a number of small sheets of paper on a pad, each having an adhesive backing that allows it to be positioned and repositioned on smooth surfaces.
Origin of sticky
1720-30; 1910-15 for def 4; stick2 + -y1
Related forms
stickily, adverb
stickiness, noun
nonsticky, adjective
unsticky, adjective
3. muggy, sultry, damp, steamy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sticky
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her heart's made of honey and sugar, and everything soft and sticky.

    Reels and Spindles Evelyn Raymond
  • She stemmed and stemmed until her hands were sticky and her fingers ached.

  • When it is in a cottonwood grove, it is covered with the sticky white cotton from the trees.

    The Children's Book of Birds Olive Thorne Miller
  • There was a great splash of blood upon it, her hand was all wet and sticky.

    Anna the Adventuress E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • The soil rolled away, black and sticky, with a dull sheen upon it.

    Famous Authors (Men) E. F. (Edward Francis) Harkins
British Dictionary definitions for sticky


adjective stickier, stickiest
covered or daubed with an adhesive or viscous substance: sticky fingers
having the property of sticking to a surface
(of weather or atmosphere) warm and humid; muggy
(of prices) tending not to fall in deflationary conditions
(informal) difficult, awkward, or painful: a sticky business
(US, informal) sentimental
(of a website) encouraging users to visit repeatedly
verb stickies, stickying, stickied
(transitive) (informal) to make sticky
noun (Austral, informal) (pl) stickies
short for stickybeak
an inquisitive look or stare (esp in the phrase have a sticky at)
Derived Forms
stickily, adverb
stickiness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sticky

1727, "adhesive," from stick (v.). An Old English word for this was clibbor. First recorded 1864 in the sense of "sentimental;" 1915 with the meaning "difficult." Of weather, "hot and humid," from 1895. Sticky wicket is 1952, from British slang, in reference to cricket.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sticky



  1. Sentimental; schmaltzy, soppy: a sticky little song about a crippled puppy (1864+)
  2. Difficult; tricky; nasty: He considered himself a tap dancer, because he was very agile at gliding away from any sticky situation (1915+)

Related Terms


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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