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twitch

[twich]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to tug or pull at with a quick, short movement; pluck: She twitched him by the sleeve.
  2. to jerk rapidly: The rider twitched the reins a couple of times.
  3. to move (a part of the body) with a sudden, jerking motion.
  4. to pinch or pull at sharply and painfully; give a smarting pinch to; nip.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to move spasmodically or convulsively; jerk; jump.
  2. to give a sharp, sudden pull; tug; pluck (usually followed by at): He constantly twitched at his collar.
  3. to ache or hurt with a sharp, shooting pain; twinge: That back tooth twitches a bit.
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noun
  1. a quick, jerky movement of the body or of some part of it.
  2. involuntary, spasmodic movement of a muscle; tic: He gets a twitch in his left eye when he's nervous.
  3. a short, sudden pull or tug; jerk.
  4. a bodily or mental twinge, as of pain, conscience, etc.; pang.
  5. a loop or noose placed over the muzzle of a horse and tightened by twisting a stick or handle to which it is attached, used as a restraining device during a painful operation.
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Origin of twitch

1125–75; Middle English twicchen (v.); akin to Old English twiccian to pluck; cognate with German zwicken to pinch
Related formstwitch·er, nountwitch·ing·ly, adverbun·twitched, adjectiveun·twitch·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for twitch

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He gave a twitch of his fingers upon the reins, and turned from the trail to investigate.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • John looked after him without so much as a twitch in a single nerve of his face.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • Unconsciously he had betrayed himself in a despair of voice and twitch of movement.

    Mixed Faces

    Roy Norton

  • Then her eyes began to blaze and her lips to twitch spasmodically.

    The Masked Bridal

    Mrs. Georgie Sheldon

  • The still head began to rock, the throat to swell, the lips to twitch.

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes


British Dictionary definitions for twitch

twitch

verb
  1. to move or cause to move in a jerky spasmodic way
  2. (tr) to pull or draw (something) with a quick jerky movement
  3. (intr) to hurt with a sharp spasmodic pain
  4. (tr) rare to nip
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noun
  1. a sharp jerking movement
  2. a mental or physical twinge
  3. a sudden muscular spasm, esp one caused by a nervous conditionCompare tic
  4. a loop of cord used to control a horse by drawing it tight about its upper lip
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Derived Formstwitching, adjective, noun

Word Origin

Old English twiccian to pluck; related to Old High German zwecchōn to pinch, Dutch twicken
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

Word Origin and History for twitch

v.

late 12c., to-twic-chen "pull apart with a quick jerk," related to Old English twiccian "to pluck," from Proto-Germanic *twikjonan (cf. Low German twicken, Dutch twikken, Old High German gizwickan, German zwicken "to pinch, tweak"). Related: Twitched; twitching. The noun is attested from 1520s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

twitch in Medicine

twitch

(twĭch)
v.
  1. To draw, pull, or move suddenly and sharply; jerk.
  2. To move jerkily or spasmodically.
  3. To ache sharply from time to time; twinge.
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n.
  1. A sudden involuntary or spasmodic muscular movement.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.