1. a sudden, spasmodic, painless, involuntary muscular contraction, as of the face.
  2. tic douloureux.
a persistent or recurrent behavioral trait; personal quirk: her distinctive verbal tics.

Origin of tic

1790–1800; < French (of expressive orig.)
Can be confusedtic tick


a suffix, equivalent in meaning to -ic, occurring in adjectives of Greek origin (analytic), used especially in the formation of adjectives from nouns with stems in -sis: hematotic; neurotic.

Origin of -tic

< Greek -tikos, extracted from adjectives derived with -ikos -ic from agent nouns ending in -tēs; cf. hieratic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for tic

twitch, jerk, fit, contraction

Examples from the Web for tic

Contemporary Examples of tic

Historical Examples of tic

British Dictionary definitions for tic


noun pathol

spasmodic twitching of a particular group of muscles

Word Origin for tic

C19: from French, of uncertain origin; compare Italian ticche
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 tic

twitching of a facial muscle, 1822, often a shortening of tic douloureux "severe facial neuralgia," literally "painful twitch" (1800), from French tic "a twitching disease of horses" (early 17c.), of unknown origin. Klein suggests an imitative origin; French etymologists compare it to Italian ticchio "whim, caprice."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tic in Medicine




A habitual spasmodic muscular movement or contraction, usually of the face or extremities.habit spasm
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.