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.

Nearby words

  1. tibial nerve,
  2. tibiofibular,
  3. tibiotarsus,
  4. tibullus,
  5. tibur,
  6. tic douloureux,
  7. tic-tac-toe,
  8. tical,
  9. ticarcillin disodium,
  10. tichy

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

Examples from the Web for 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

Medicine definitions for tic




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.