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See more synonyms for tic on Thesaurus.com
  1. Pathology.
    1. a sudden, spasmodic, painless, involuntary muscular contraction, as of the face.
    2. tic douloureux.
  2. a persistent or recurrent behavioral trait; personal quirk: her distinctive verbal tics.
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Origin of tic

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


  1. 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.
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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. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tic


noun pathol
  1. spasmodic twitching of a particular group of muscles
  2. See tic douloureux
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Word Origin

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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tic in Medicine


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