Tic or Tick?

What Is the Difference between "Tic" and "Tick"?

"Tic" and "tick" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms). However, their meanings are very different.
  • A "tic" is an involuntary twitch.
  • For everything else, use "tick."
tic or tick?

More about "Tic" and "Tick"

"Tic" and "tick" are homophone homonyms because they sound the same. They are not homograph homophones because they have different spellings. "Tic" and "tick" are both common words, and your readers will expect you to use the right one.


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

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

More about "Tick"

The word "tick" has four common meanings.

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

  • Why isn't there a tick next to my name? correct tick
  • (This is an example of "tick" being used as a noun.)
  • The 'don't know' answer sometimes is the box you should tick. correct tick (Comedian Robin Ince)
  • (This is an example of "tick" being used as a verb.)

(2) Tick: The noise made by a watch or a clock.

  • Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and clocks tick regardless of how we lead our lives. correct tick (Author John C Maxwell)
  • (This is an example of "tick" being used as a verb.)
  • The tick in my watch is driving me insane. correct tick
  • (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. correct tick (Actor Ron Silver)
  • (This is an example of "tick" being used figuratively.)

(3) Tick: A noun meaning a short period of time.

  • He'll be back in a tick. correct tick

(4) Tick: A noun meaning 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. correct tick (Author Don Kardong)
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.