Tic or Tick?

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What is the difference between tic and tick?

Tic is a noun denoting an involuntary twitch. For everything else, use tick.


The noun tic is an involuntary contraction of the muscles, usually in the face.

  • I have a number of violent tics. Tourette syndrome is not just compulsive actions but compulsive thoughts too. (Dash Mihok)
  • Tics are often invisible to the observer, such as abdominal tensing or toe crunching.


The word tick has many meanings.

Tick: A mark to show something is correct or completed.

  • Why isn't there a tick next to my name?
  • (This is an example of tick being used as a noun.)
  • The 'don't know' answer sometimes is the box you should tick. (Robin Ince)
  • (This is an example of tick being used as a verb.)
Tick: The noise made by a watch or a clock.

  • Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. (John C Maxwell)
  • (This is an example of tick being used as a verb.)

  • The tick in my watch is driving me insane.
  • (This is an example of tick being used as a noun.)

  • Anyone who devotes time and attention to what makes people tick, to me, is a smart person. (Ron Silver)
  • (This is an example of tick being used figuratively.)
Tick: A noun meaning a short period of time.

  • He'll be back in a tick.
Tick: A noun denoting a small arachnid similar to a mite.

  • I know runners who have suffered a tick bite and ended up with Lyme disease. I'll take an angry moose any day. (Don Kardong)

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