[ ik ]


  1. (used as an expression of distaste or repugnance.)


  1. Informal. something or someone that causes feelings of distaste or repugnance:

    If your dog has an eye infection, regularly wipe the ick from his eyes and nose with a clean, damp, warm washcloth.

    It's a big ick for me when someone is rude to waitstaff.

  2. the ick, Slang. a sudden feeling of disgust or dislike, often in response to the actions of another person:

    I once got the ick when a guy I was dating used an emoji that annoyed me.

  3. the ick, Chiefly British Informal. an illness, especially one such as a cold or flu:

    It seems like everyone in the office is coming down with the ick at once.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of ick1

First recorded in 1965–70; of expressive origin

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Example Sentences

In the end, the reason that Anthony Weiner is unlikely to survive the sexting scandal comes down to what I call the ick factor.

Except that the ick factor keeps rising, along with the humiliation level for the embattled Democrat.

Luckiest man in America this week: the previous ick factor champion, John Edwards.

Um, well, to avoid the ick factor let's believe he meant he put his career ahead of his marriage.

Slaet up den tromele, van ick sal come up to de camerken, wan my new wineken slaet up den tromele, van ick sal come.

Mynheer, Ick wet neat watt hey xacht, Ick universton ewe neaty sacramant!

Now ick sall revange; hay, begar, me sal tartar de whole generation!

By me fait, dis bin very fine langage; ick sall bush ye now; ha, be garzon, vare had you dat plate?

Verie vel, give monies to some fellow to squire me; ick sal go abroad.


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More About Ick

What does ick mean?

Ick is used to show disgust or repugnance, as in Ick! That’s so gross. As a noun phrase, the ick is also an informal term for sickness or other queasy feelings.

How is ick pronounced?

[ ik ]

What are some other forms of ick?

  • icky
  • the ick
  • ick factor

Where does ick come from?

Like many interjections, ick is probably imitative or expressive—that is, it sounds like what it is meant to convey.

Icky-boo is recorded in the 1920s for “feeling sick,” possibly derived from sick. In his 1922 novel Ulysses, James Joyce described kisses as “ickylickysticky yumyum,” suggesting a connection to sticky.

The adjective icky is recorded in the 1930s, when jazz musicians referred to sappy, sentimental songs as icky. Ick, as a general informal term for grossness, is found in the 1940s.

In 2017, ick got an update on the British romance reality TV show Love Island. The contestant Olivia, when explaining why she moved on from fellow contestant and one-time love interest Sam, said he gave her the ick—that gut-lurching feeling when someone you liked at first suddenly becomes repulsive. The ick spread like wildfire on social media and entered the popular lexicon.

How is ick used in real life?

As an expression of disgust, ick appears in everyday speech and writing. It has also appeared throughout popular culture. The 1985 sci-fi comedy Real Genius, for instance, featured the quotable line, “Ick! I’m melting!”

The sitcom Friends used ick in the 1995 episode “The One With The Ick Factor.” In the episode, the character Monica finds out her new boyfriend is 17 and breaks up with him because “it’s icky.” As the episode title suggests, ick factor is an expression for something that causes disgust, especially on a larger behavioral or social level.

Icky Thump is the sixth album and title track by rockers The White Stripes, which was released in 2007. In 2016, the band sold “Icky Trump” t-shirts as a political statement after Trump used their anthemic “Seven Nation Army” without permission.

More examples of ick:

“Marin garbage collectors say they are not seeing strong participation in countywide food scrap collection efforts—and the ‘ick factor’ is largely to blame.”

—Stephanie Weldy, Marin Independent Journal, July 2017