• IPA(key): /twɪt͡ʃ/, [tʰw̥ɪt͡ʃ]
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪtʃ

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English twicchen, from Old English *twiċċan, from Proto-West Germanic *twikkijan (to nail, pin, fasten, clasp, pinch).

Cognate with English tweak, Low German twikken, German Low German twicken (to pinch, pinch off), zweckōn and gizwickan (> German zwicken (to pinch)).


twitch (countable and uncountable, plural twitches)

  1. A brief, small (sometimes involuntary) movement out of place and then back again; a spasm.
    I saw a little twitch in the man's face, and knew he was lying.
  2. (informal) Action of spotting or seeking out a bird, especially a rare one.
  3. (farriery) A stick with a hole in one end through which passes a loop, which can be drawn tightly over the upper lip or an ear of a horse and twisted to keep the animal quiet during minor surgery.
    Synonym: barnacle
    • 1861, John Henry Walsh, The Horse in the Stable and in the Field:
      THE TWITCH is a short stick of strong ash, about the size of a mopstick, with a hole pierced near the end, through which is passed a piece of strong but small cord, and tied in a loop large enough to admit the open hand freely.
  4. (physiology) A brief, contractile response of a skeletal muscle elicited by a single maximal volley of impulses in the neurons supplying it.
  5. (mining) The sudden narrowing almost to nothing of a vein of ore.
  6. (birdwatching) A trip taken in order to observe a rare bird.
Derived termsEdit


twitch (third-person singular simple present twitches, present participle twitching, simple past and past participle twitched)

  1. (intransitive) To perform a twitch; spasm.
    His fingers were nervously twitching.
  2. (transitive) To cause to twitch; spasm.
  3. (transitive) To jerk sharply and briefly.
    to twitch somebody's sleeve for attention
  4. (obsolete) To exert oneself. [15th–17th c.]
  5. (transitive) To spot or seek out a bird, especially a rare one.
    • 1995, Quarterly Review of Biology, volume 70, page 348:
      "The Birdwatchers Handbook ... will be a clear asset to those who 'twitch' in Europe."
    • 2003, Mark Cocker, Birders: Tales of a Tribe[1], →ISBN, page 52:
      "But the key revelation from twitching that wonderful Iceland Gull on 10 March 1974 wasn't its eroticism. It was the sheer innocence of it."
    • 2005, Sean Dooley, The Big Twitch: One Man, One Continent, a Race Against Time[2], →ISBN, page 119:
      "I hadn't seen John since I went to Adelaide to (unsuccessfully) twitch the '87 Northern Shoveler, when I was a skinny, eighteen-year-old kid. "
Usage notesEdit
  • When used of birdwatchers by outsiders, this term frequently carries a negative connotation.
Derived termsEdit


  • Dutch: twitchen

Etymology 2Edit

alternate of quitch


twitch (uncountable)

  1. couch grass (Elymus repens; a species of grass, often considered as a weed)