Definition of tick-tock in English:

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Pronunciation: /tɪkˈtɒk/


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 chronological account of an event or series of events: an excellent tick-tock of the unfolding financial crisis [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]
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.

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