characterized by intense agitation, excitement, confused and rapid movement, etc.: The week before the trip was hectic and exhausting.

Origin of hectic

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin hecticus < Greek hektikós habitual, consumptive, adj. corresponding to héxis possession, state, habit, equivalent to *hech-, base of échein to have + -sis -sis; see -tic; replacing Middle English etyk < Middle French
Related formshec·ti·cal·ly, hec·tic·ly, adverbhec·tic·ness, nounnon·hec·tic, adjectivenon·hec·ti·cal·ly, adverbun·hec·tic, adjectiveun·hec·ti·cal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for hectic

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hectic

Contemporary Examples of hectic

Historical Examples of hectic

  • Under her poke bonnet I saw her meekly parted hair and her faded cheeks, flushed now with a hectic colour.

  • His face lengthens, grows pale and bearded, with sunken eyes, the blotches of phthisis and hectic cheekbones of John F. Taylor.


    James Joyce

  • We narrow down from these to hectic souls content with a few thoughts which serve as a basis for the hearts fervours.

  • Then, a few days later, he suddenly emerged brilliantly radiant in the hectic glow of his belated midsummer madness.

  • The hectic flush in Lansdale's thin cheek began to define itself, with a little pulse throbbing in the centre of it.

    The Helpers

    Francis Lynde

British Dictionary definitions for hectic



characterized by extreme activity or excitement
associated with, peculiar to, or symptomatic of tuberculosis (esp in the phrases hectic fever, hectic flush)


a hectic fever or flush
rare a person who is consumptive or who experiences a hectic fever or flush
Derived Formshectically, adverb

Word Origin for hectic

C14: from Late Latin hecticus, from Greek hektikos habitual, from hexis state, from ekhein to have
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 hectic

late 14c., etik (in fever etik), from Old French etique "consumptive," from Late Latin hecticus, from Greek hektikos "continuous, habitual, consumptive" (of a disease, because of the constant fever), from hexis "a habit (of mind or body)," from ekhein "have, hold, continue" (see scheme).

The Latin -h- was restored in English 16c. Sense of "feverishly exciting, full of disorganized activity" first recorded 1904, but hectic also was used in Middle English as a noun meaning "feverish desire, consuming passion" (early 15c.). Hectic fevers are characterized by rapid pulse, among other symptoms. Related: Hecticness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper