Share this entry
tick-tock Syllabification: tick-tock
Pronunciation: /ˈtiktäk/

Definition of tick-tock in English:


1The sound of a large clock ticking: we could hear every tick-tock of the clock
More example sentences
  • She could hear the sounds of an empty, sleeping house; the tick-tock of the grandfather clock in the hallway, the dripping of a tap in the bathroom next to her, the low snuffling snores of her Dad next door.
  • The tick-tock of the clock was amplified and I glanced at it as a reflex.
  • It speaks of winter days sitting snug and cosy, the lamp lighting my page, toes gently toasting, and the quiet tick-tock of the clock.
1.1US informal A piece of journalism that presents a detailed chronology of events: I’m doing a tick-tock on the new economic policy [as modifier]: a tick-tock account of what went into the planning and execution of the raid
More example sentences
  • They were concerned about having the ability to recreate a chronology, a tick-tock of what had happened.
  • The script at each stop was a tick-tock of his accomplishments sprinkled with sharp jabs at Republicans.
  • Just to give you a bit of a tick-tock here, the president is going to make his way through the crowd.


[no object] Back to top  
Make a ticking sound: the clock on the wall was tick-tocking
More example sentences
  • The metronome is a nice reference tool, but if you don't have one to practice with, think of the arm of a grandfather clock tick-tocking back and forth.
  • Not a sound was to be heard anywhere; the place had nearly reached the mystical non-existent state, supposing there was one, was it not for the clock which tirelessly tick-tocked its way through the smooth black silk of silence.
  • Mindful of the time, he watched the clock tick-tock its way towards 7:15.


Mid 19th century: imitative; compare with tick1.

Definition of tick-tock in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources