Word of the Day: tick

Word of the Day
April 20, 2016
tick (noun, verb)
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A tick is a sharp clicking sound, like the sound a clock makes. In UK English, however, a tick is also a small mark made on a list (called a check mark in US English) to indicate either that something has already been taken care of or that something is correct. Informally and in UK English, a tick is a moment. As a verb, to tick means 'to make a clicking sound' or 'to indicate the passing of time.' In the time sense it is often used with the adverbs by or away. In UK English, it also means 'to mark something on a list or in a check box' or 'to mark something as correct.' In US English, the verb for this is "check."


Example sentences
No one was speaking, and the only sound in the room was the tick of the clock.
Ellen took her to-do list and put a tick next to all the tasks she had already completed.
I've left my keys in the office, so I just need to run back and get them; I won't be a tick!
I had to close the bedroom door, since the clock in the hallway was ticking so loudly!
For once, Joe had nothing to do and he lay on his back in the meadow as the hours ticked away.
The teacher ticked all the correct answers.


Words often used with tick
tick along (or, UK: tick over): to continue at a steady pace, but not really make much progress. Example: "How's business at the moment?" "Well, we don't have much new work, but there is enough from our regular clients to keep us ticking along."
Multi-word forms
tick somebody off: in US English this means 'to annoy someone'—example: "The way he speaks to me really ticks me off!"—whereas in UK English it means 'to reprimand'—example: "The boss ticked Gita off for being late again."
tick something off (UK): to mark something as done on a list. Example: "The supervisor ticked off the jobs that had already been done."
Did you know?
In the UK, if you say that someone or something "ticks all the right boxes" that means the person or thing is perfect for what you want. Example: "When we were looking for a new house it took a long time to find one that ticked all the right boxes." You can also talk about "what makes someone tick," meaning 'what makes that person function or gives them a sense of purpose.' Example: "Fiona loves her work; it really is what makes her tick."
Tick dates back to the first half of the 15th century and comes from the late Middle English word tek, meaning 'little touch;' it is akin to the Dutch word tik, meaning 'a touch or pat,' and the Norwegian word tikka, meaning 'to touch or shove slightly.'
Tick in other languages
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