GC: n

S: NHS – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tics/ (last access: 2 December 2020); NH – https://www.novanthealth.org/healthy-headlines/a-condition-often-misunderstood (last access: 2 December 2020).

N: 1. twitching of a facial muscle, 1822, often a shortening of tic douloureux “severe facial neuralgia,” literally “painful twitch” (1798), from French tic “a twitching disease of horses” (17c.), of unknown origin. Klein suggests an imitative origin; Diez compare it to Italian ticchio “whim, caprice, ridiculous habit,” itself of unknown origin.
2. An involuntary, compulsive, rapid, repetitive, stereotyped movement or vocalization, experienced as irresistible although it can be suppressed for some length of time; occurrence is increased by stress and reduced during sleep or engrossing activities.
3. There are many types of tic. Some affect body movement (motor tics) and others result in a sound (vocal or phonic tics).

Examples of tics include:

  • blinking, wrinkling the nose or grimacing
  • jerking or banging the head
  • clicking the fingers
  • touching other people or things
  • coughing, grunting or sniffing
  • repeating a sound or phrase – in a small number of cases, this may be something obscene or offensive

4. It’s not clear what causes tics. They’re thought to be due to changes in the parts of the brain that control movement.

They can run in families, and there’s likely to be a genetic cause in many cases. They also often happen alongside other conditions, such as:

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Tics can sometimes be triggered by taking illegal drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines, and are occasionally caused by more serious health conditions such as cerebral palsy or Huntington’s disease.

S: 1. OED – https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=tic (last access: 3 December 2020). 2. MD- https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/tic (last access: 2 December 2020). 3&4. NHS- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tics/(last access: 2 December 2020).


CR: Gilles de la Tourette syndrome